Thursday, October 16, 2008

Attention news editors

A tempting news item to fill a few sentences and catch some eyeballs will cross your screen today. It will be about Irish bookmaker Paddy Power --

Obama Payout!

Perhaps it was the fluffing of the economic crisis, but for whatever reason, the race to be Next US President is slipping away from John McCain. We're certain Senator Obama will become President Obama so we're paying out over €1,000,000 on him to win the election. Applies to bets placed before Thursday 3.30am.

This is a publicity stunt. It makes no actuarial sense to pay out 3 weeks before an event is resolved when a lot could still happen. They've made this "mistake" before, when they paid out for a Yes vote on the Irish Lisbon referendum which was actually defeated. But of course it's not about actuarial soundness. They get at least one and maybe two publicity bonanzas -- one on the initial reporting of the early payout, and then another if they turn out to be wrong.

So don't give them the free advertising space this time.

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