BETTING ON (OR AGAINST) SADDAM: Although Nevada restricts its betting to sporting events, that’s not the case in other world jurisdictions, especially the United Kingdom, where you can bet on anything.
What has attracted the attention of punters recently is the survival of Saddam Hussein. Will he or won’t he last until March 30 or until June 30.
One Internet site, Tradesport.com, set up a futures contract that Saddam would be ousted by March 30. In the early days of the futures bet, the price of a $100 contract was running at less than $20 but that changed quickly when the bombs started flying. In fact, at one point, the contract was selling for $80.
But as March 30 drew closer, the price of the futures bet dropped rapidly, finally reaching $10 before trading closed over the weekend.
One unexpected Hussein betting feature was noted by a professor at Stanford University. He observed that oil and stock markets generally moved in concert with the Saddam securities. Naturally, he used the comparison to write a paper on his findings.
WHO SAYS HORSE RACING IS DYING? While the economy languishes in its slowdown, horse racing actually perked up last year. Actually, for the third straight year, interest in horse racing increased from the previous year.
According to the number crunchers, horse racing’s fan base in 2002 increased by 3.6% from the previous year. Those figures represent a base of about 35% of the U.S. population.
The poll was conducted by a consortium of TNS Research, ESPN Sports Poll and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).
The results further revealed that horse racing is now the nation’s 11th most popular sport out of 28 (can you name them all?).
The NFL, of course, led the way with a 66.2% fan base. But horse racing moved ahead of the National Hockey League, the World Tennis Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association.
One of the pollsters cited several reasons for the increased interest in horse racing. They included War Emblem’s epic pursuit of the Triple Crown and the success of the movie, "Seabiscuit."
He also cited across the board increase in TV ratings, presumably related to satellite wagering services that were approved last year in California and other states.
Isn’t it amazing how adding a betting interest also fuels fan interest? Could be a story there
IT’S NOT ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS: It may be that patrons at Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City know how to gamble, but they sure don’t know their liquor. Recently, the N.J. Casino Control Commission found that the casino was substituting other liquors when their patrons ordered Crown Royal or Malibu Rum.
Substituting lesser brands at Bally’s apparently lasted some 18 months before the practice was discovered. The gaming regulators fined the casino $80,000 for the mistakes.
According to nj.com, even the bartenders and the cocktail servers had no idea that what they were serving wasn’t the real thing. Also, it appears as though for the entire period few if any complaints were made.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS: Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who headed the war effort when the Allies pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991, was in Las Vegas over the weekend to speak before a group of state lawmakers at The Venetian.
During his talk, Schwarzkopf urged all Americans to support the U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, regardless of how one felt about the war.
"They do it (fight) because your country wants them to”¦and that makes it right," the military leader said. He told the lawmakers that the country needed their leadership.
"And don’t forget our troops," he said, adding, "Gold Almighty, they’re there for only one reason — to protect you!"
A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAR: It won’t get the headlines that Iraq is getting but there’s a war going on in Kentucky between the powerful thoroughbred interest and an upstart group that supports quarter horses.
Now, to most people, a horse is a horse is a horse. But, in Kentucky, unless the animal is a registered thoroughbred, he’ll not get recognition regardless what he accomplishes.
Recently, a group has been lobbying to have a portion of the interstate wagering revenues allocated to quarter horse racing, a move that is strongly opposed by the more traditional horsemen. And these detractors point out that quarter horses don’t even have a track to race at. But that could be remedied if purse money were allocated. Bob Elliston, president of Turfway Park, said he would be interested in staging a quarter horse race meet.
Forget it, say the thoroughbred people. "No one would show up at them dang races, anyway," said one of the knockers.