LONDON Pollsters and pundits in the United States may be hedging their bets, but a bookie in Britain is paying out even before the presidential race is over. Paddy Power, Europe's largest book-maker and one of the big "bet shop" chains in Britain (where they'll bet on anything) has decided that President Obama has already won reelection, and is handing over cash to those who placed bets on him.
With 75 percent of those laying a bet on the race in the past month backing the incumbent, the odds and the payout weren't terribly attractive anyway. The book-making firm may just be cutting its losses. Still, its pre-election payout bill will come to well over half-a-million dollars.
"Romney gave it a good shot and is doing well in the popular vote, but we suspect he's had his moment in the sun and is likely to be remembered more for his legendary gaffes than presidential potential," Paddy Power said in a statement. "The overall betting trend has shown one-way traffic for Obama and punters seem to have called it 100 percent correct."
Opinion polls may be edging ever so slightly toward an Obama second term, but most predictions are still within the margin of error, or simply inconclusive. But that didn't stop Paddy Power from sticking its neck out and - in the highly competitive business world of British gambling - getting itself a few headlines.
Even with the payout, "punters" can still lay down a bet on the race. In fact, they can bet on just about any aspect of it. It's 100 to 1 that Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney will get the same number of Electoral College votes; 11 to 1 that Romney will win the popular vote but Mr. Obama will win where it matters -- in the Electoral College; 50 to 1 that the opposite will happen, and 16 to 1 that Obama will win in a landslide. Point-spread bets are being taken as well.
For the more traditionally, equine-minded gamblers, Pendra is the 4/6 favorite in Monday's Maiden Hurdle for 4-year-olds at Plumpton Park. Although Forgotten Promise, the 60/1 long shot in the 13:20 at the same track should get some action, if only for sentimental reasons.