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Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: an election bet that can’t lose

A cup day bet that cannot lose. It is a punter's dream bet -- back all the runners and win whatever wins. And as I write this at 11.30am on Melbourne Cup Day you can st

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

A cup day bet that cannot lose. It is a punter’s dream bet — back all the runners and win whatever wins. And as I write this at 11.30am on Melbourne Cup Day you can still guarantee yourself a profit on the US presidential election. All you need is an account with Betfair in Australia and Intrade in Ireland and you can wager on both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and win. Invest $91.40 and you’ll get back $100.

Here’s a summary of the markets on the three betting exchanges I combine to create the Crikey Presidential Indicator:

When the percentage chances add up to less than 100 you can back both runners and win and by combining Intrade and Betfair prices that’s exactly the case. So go to it. Being a sporting fellow I’ll leave the profit to my readers.

And a note for those not skilled in these gambling ways you will find that Betfair provides information as a price like in a tote dividend. To convert it to a percentage divide 1 by the price (eg. this morning you could back Romney on Betfair at $4.40 – 1/4.40 = 22.7).

The verdict of the Crikey Indicator. There’s no doubt in my mind that this wonderful arbitrage opportunity comes about because of a weird desire among Republicans to have their man Romney appear as a winner. The publication by Real Clear Politics of the latest Intrade prices showing Obama as a clear favourite clearly annoyed some people with money to spare. For what was a small outlay compared with the $6 billion being spent on this US election campaign they kept the Obama advantage from seeming too great.

On the other exchanges manipulation is not as easy. The Betfair market is used by the world’s major bookmakers as well as ordinary punters and thus a much greater outlay would be needed to affect it. And the Iowa Electronic Market limits the amounts that any individual participant can play with. More importantly neither of these two has its prices published by Real Clear Politics.

And so to the final indicator before tonight’s voting.

Even after giving the Intrade market a one third weighting it shows Obama as the likely winner.

And the witch doctor says … John Dimo, a traditional 115-year-old witch-doctor from President Barack Obama’s ancestral home Kogelo village, 367 miles west of Nairobi, has performed an ancient rite with mystical artefacts and concluded that the president will be returned to office.

Strange values on animal torture. There’s something strange about a country’s values when it objects vigorously to Japan harpooning a few hundred whales but condones the cruel shipment of sheep and cattle on crowded ships for thousands of miles to be painfully executed.

Some news and views noted along the way.

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