Thursday, 31 May 2012

Gaming Politics

Intrade is an online exchange that allows investors to buy shares in a market that bets on political outcomes.  A Bloomberg article describes that the odds change constantly as traders hunt for every fragment of information they can get from 24 hour news that can sway public opinion leading up to an electoral event.

Most of 10,000 Intraders are male poker players, betting on hundreds of real-world events framed as yes/no propositions.  The article profiles a particular breed of Intrader: someone ‘who has never voted, knows next to nothing about the candidates’ records and professes indifference towards the issues.’ 

Online gambling is heavily restricted in the US so the exchange is headquartered in Ireland, where traders post cheques to the company. Intrade began online betting on sports and the Dow Jones industrial average in 2001 and opened its political markets in 2004.  Because of its accuracy, ‘the site has become a go-to source for the news media since the 2008 Presidential race, when it predicted Barack Obama would win 364 electoral college votes.  Obama ended up with 365.’

I sense that the word democracy means little to the men who short the political process.

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