by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
Irish online sportsbook Paddy Power received a great deal of criticism for releasing odds on U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama’s assassination. Due to a slew of complaints and suggestions that the odds might prompt a bettor to assassinate the president while in office, the website has discontinued these betting facilities.
The odds were not necessarily that the president-elect would be assassinated, but that he would not finish his first term in office, for whatever reason. The online betting affair was met with arguments that the sportsbook was in “poor taste” from the general public as well as the media, and was labeled as “completely inappropriate” by an US Embassy official in Ireland.
Another internet sportsbook in competition with Paddy Power had refused to post odds on the presidential assassination, despite many demands for it. A spokesperson for the company stated, “After receiving over one hundred requests from gamblers looking to bet that Barack Obama will be the target of an assassination attempt or terrorist attack, bookmakers William Hill have issued a statement confirming that under no circumstances will they even contemplate offering such odds.”
Spokesperson Graham Sharpe commented, “We have no interest whatsoever in betting on the possible death or serious injury of any politician (or anyone else for that matter) in any circumstance. I cannot imagine why any reputable bookmarker would even consider taking such a bet or any punter contemplate placing one.”
The US Presidential Election saw a record 10 million Euro in wagers online. Following the outcome, several punters on Paddy Power requested odds for Obama’s assassination. When Paddy Power complied, it immediately received a great deal of controversy. Initially, the sportsbook refused to take down the odds, claiming that it was nonsense to suggest the bet would encourage anyone to harm the President-Elect.
“The online gambling industry does not offer ‘death pool’ type wagers,” said Gambling911.com Senior Editor, Payton O’Brien. “The industry has evolved way beyond the point so there was quite a bit of disappointment when this story first broke. Paddy Power is like the Virgin Group of online gambling and one would expect this firm to be more responsible.”
“I have a feeling there is a lot of second guessing now in the Paddy camp,” O’Brien concluded when the sportsbook removed the assassination odds.
“It is understandable that folks might be offended by this especially when one reflects upon US history and some of the tragedies involving popular public figures including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King, Jr.” O’Brien continued. “This is not something that we would ever promote.”
While it has not yet been specified, it is believed that the bookies will honor existing bets for people who wagered that the president would not finish his first term in office, whether the reason be assassination or no, with odds of 12-1.
Paddy Power is now instead offering three Obama “First Term Specials” to online punters and clients in their land shops. The odds are 10-1 that Obama will have another child during his first term in office, 28-1 odds that he will resign during his first four years and 33-1 odds that he will be impeached.