The race to the White House is neck-and-neck, according to the polls. But in the world of gambling and prediction markets, the outcome of Tuesday's election is plain as day.
President Obama has a 71.5% chance of winning the U.S. presidential election, according to Intrade, a website where users place bets on everything from politics to Academy Award winners.
That gives Republican challenger Mitt Romney a 28.5% chance of winning.
If you don't like those odds, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power said Monday that it was already paying out bets that Obama would win, a day before voters went to the polls.
The move was announced in a controversial, some would say offensive, advertisement published in the Irish Times, that read: "Sorry Romney. You're not black, or cool. We're paying out early on an Obama victory."
"It certainly wasn't our intention to offend people," said Paddy Power in a statement. "Our advertising is designed to be bold – we sometimes like to get people talking – and funny".
Paddy Power said it has already paid out more than $650,000 to "punters" who placed bets that Obama would win. The bookmaker said 75% of the money staked on the election has gone in favor of Obama.
"The overall betting trend has shown oneway traffic for Obama and, judging by the state polls, bettors seem to have called it 100% correct," said the company.
The bets were paid out at whatever odds the money was staked on, according to a Paddy Power spokesman. "It makes no difference to us if we had waited to pay out after the election," he said. "The amount would have been the same."
The odds of an Obama victory continued to shorten Tuesday, but Paddy Power is still taking bets. "He's currently a pretty much unbackable 1/6 - meaning you need to invest $60 to win just $10," said the spokesman.
For those willing to stick their necks out, the bookie will pay $40 for every $10 wager on Romney.
Investors are watching the race for the White House like hawks because, when it comes to the fate of the fiscal cliff, there is a lot riding on the Nov. 6 election.
Given all the partisan bickering over how to solve the nation's growing debt, and more immediately, how to avoid the simultaneous onset of tax increases and spending cuts that will be triggered on Jan. 1, the worst possible MOREHibah Yousuf - Oct 5, 2012 7:50 AM ET
Not a member yet?Sign up now for a free account