Monday, February 02, 2004

Volokh's Talk at Stanford. Plus, should gambling on Sports be considered Investing?
Just getting back from lunch with the guy. A lot more laid back than I had expected. I'm hoping he accepts the offer to teach here in the fall, mainly because I think he would be a good prof to take Con Law II under.

One interesting tidbit from the conversation came about on gambling. We were all joking around about the Iowa Futures Market where you can bet on who will win the Democratic nomination, general election, etc. I think it was co-blogger Zummer who was the one teasing Volokh (I could be mistaken) that if there was such a market for Supreme Court cases, the professor could make a killing because he knows the law better than almost all investors (superior information wins money with bets). This started a conversation about whether the futures market was gambling, with somebody pointing out that the general rule is that futures are not gambling because they exist to defer economic risk, whereas gambling creates risk in of itself.

If this is the case though, why wouldn't betting on a sports game be viewed in the same light? Let's suppose that the Cleveland Indians are down a game in the race for the wild card to the playoffs to the Toronto Bluejays. You own a bar in downtown Cleveland, which will get a huge boost if the Indians get to play in the playoffs, and want to hedge against the risk that Toronto will win the rest of their games and keep the Indians out of the playoffs, depriving you of a large stream of income. So, for "purely business purposes" you bet on the Bluejays to win each game. While this is a sports gamble, it would be undertaken for "purely" business purposes, so one could obstensibly argue that it should be allowed.

Could this defense be tried? Hey - I'm not a lawyer, what do I know?

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