U.S. Election Betting: Obama odds point to big win

October 15, 2008

Barack Obama is now the overwhelming favorite to win the U.S. Election at Sportsbooks, which has moved the Illinois senator to -500 in moneyline betting for the United States presidential election.

Bettors who place a $250 Prop Bet on Obama would win $50 for a total return of $300.

Underdog bettors who think John McCain will mount an amazing comeback between now and the Nov. 4 election can get +300 odds on the Arizona senator at Sportsbooks.

A $250 bet on McCain would net a total return of $1000.

According to Ireland’s Intrade, an online prediction market business, current betting trends indicate the Democratic senator will win all the states that John Kerry won in 2004, plus key states Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, New Mexico and Missouri.

That current betting trend would give Obama 364 electoral votes in the November 4 presidential election, well over the minimum 270 needed to capture the White House.

Intrade says that while experts are divided on the reliability of the online prediction market, some believe past results show they are just as good or even better than public-opinion surveys.

In 2004, President George W. Bush won and lost in all the states Intrade predicted he would. In the 2006 legislative elections, it correctly predicted the Republicans would win a Senate majority, when even the pundits were unsure how the race would go.

James Surowiecky, an economist, New Yorker magazine contributor and author of “The Wisdom of Crowds,” believes online betting is more reliable because risking money makes for a stronger commitment than simply talking with survey-takers.

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