Offshore oddsmakers: Bush is the bet | NevadaAppeal.com

Offshore oddsmakers: Bush is the bet

PETER THOMPSON

Thanks to the lucrative gray pastures of the Internet that have bred such quasi-legal phenomena as “offshore betting,” the old adage that “people vote with their pocketbooks” could be updated to “people vote with the actual contents of their pocketbooks.”

While Nevada state law NRS 293.830 explicitly classifies betting on the election as a gross misdemeanor, offshore sports books, like one based in Costa Rica, offer armchair politicos a chance to place live action on Tuesday’s top contest – and they’re doing it in record numbers.

“The moneyline on Bush was -255 before the debates,” says Rob Gillespie, president of BoDog, speaking by phone from Vancouver, British Columbia.

“After the debates, he went as low as -150. Now he’s back up, hovering around -200. Barring anything major, I think he’ll stay around that level until the election.”

For the uninitiated, that means it would take a $200 bet to win $100 on the favorite, incumbent George W. Bush. John Kerry was at +130, meaning a $130 bet wins $100.

With true parity finally being achieved in the race for the White House, seemingly gone are the days of the rude spankings given to the Walter Mondales of the world.

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This is a real contest.

“The race has reached football game proportions,” says Gillespie.

“We’re surprised at just how big it’s gotten. Most of the money’s coming from America. A bit is coming from the United Kingdom – most of which is going on Kerry.”

If the trend keeps up, TV networks might look to drop old standbys like politely arrogant everyman Tim Russert and consider keeping Walter Cronkite in cold storage for less-subjective events, instead adding pundits like the National Football League’s John Madden.

“BOOM!” he’d wallop from a booth overlooking a huge playing-field map of the United States, as the Buckeye State turned a decisive color. “POW!”

“That’s 20 electoral votes, but they’re going to need to put a lot more points up on the board if they are going to win this thing,” he would say, offering up his trademark brand of fairly obvious commentary.

Election night tailgaters would gather in the parking lots of party headquarters and barbecue meat. At home, high-fives would work their way from couch to couch as Madden projected the winners of battleground states like Iowa, Hawaii and our own Nevada, mindlessly circling them on the Telestrator and fumbling with a tiny calculator.

It’s easy to forget things like national dialogue when the rent money’s on the line. For an even-bigger payday, another Internet site is offering 901-1 odds that George W. Bush will be the first human to land on Mars.

After the election of 2000, anything seems possible, if not likely.

Contact reporter Peter Thompson at pthompson@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.