Jewish World Review April 1, 2003 / 28 Adar II, 5763
Hedging the war
From Reuters News Service, I recently gained a reminder that there are
many ways to view war. A war can spell massive loss of life. It can
signal a paradigm shift, the end of one era, the beginning of another.
It can occasion heartbreak, debate, grief, bloodlust, fear, and rage.
And it can provide gambling opportunities!
You can't make book on the war in Vegas, which views the process as
distasteful, but there are always web sites, aren't there? On the
Internet nobody knows you're a dog.
One website, the name of which I don't think I'll share with you, allows
visitors to make contracts on future events, like the Oscars, or a
football game, and trade them. According to the website's managers,
earlier in March, when there were rumors floating around that Saddam
Hussein had been killed, "futures reflecting the chance that Saddam
would not be leader of Iraq by the end of March rose to 79 percent, from
65 percent earlier in the day, and from about 20 percent earlier this
Another website, which I also will not name, allows visitors to bet on
whether "Saddam would be dead or exiled by the end of June." A spokesman
for the site said they have taken in about 300 grand on Iraq-related
bets, compared to the 200 million they expect to rake in from college
basketball. These bets, by the way, aren't on a menu. They're only given
when customers request them.
I guess it's all rather ghoulish, kind of a "dead pool" on a global
scale, but on the other hand, only ghouls and their enablers are making
a buck on it, so it's hard for me to get too outraged.
But there is something very random about it. I'm not a gambling man
myself, but it seems to me if you're hellbent on betting on any darn
thing you sent your eye on, it doesn't have to be so morbid.
Bet on whether the web site where you're placing your bet will be around
two years from now. Bet on how long your marriage will last once your
wife finds out you're betting the kid's college money on Saddam's life
Or if you insist on keeping it war-related, bet on how long the words
"embedded reporters" will stick around once the war is over.
Or forget about it. Bet on which way that car will turn when it reaches
the end of the street, which blade of grass the ant will climb, on which
part of the sidewalk the leaf will fall, which way the wind will blow
tomorrow, and whether it will reveal a silver lining behind that cloud.
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales