Waging War to wagering
By maddy
After eight months of a relentless manhunt, Saddam Hussein's capture, hiding in a hole, proved to be an anticlimax. But the punters seem to be pleased like the Iraqis themselves.

We are not talking of another betting site, but of www.tradesports.com, where investors use real money to trade contracts linked to world events.

Normally restricted to publicly traded stocks or commodity trading, TradeSports.com operates like an Internet stock exchange, where stock prices or contract and investor picks can fluctuate based on supply and demand.

For instance, each ‘Saddam Capture December 2003’ contract, had a payout of US$10 if the Iraqi dictator was captured or neutralized by Dec. 31st, 2003.

With the contract trading at a rock bottom of 30 cents, as US military efforts in nabbing him failed, its recent value has soared by 3,000 per cent on the news breaking about the evidence of his capture.

George Bush Jr. was another hot pick at the Dublin-based TradeSports.com, when the ‘Bush contract’ re-election rose by 22 cents to $6.82 yesterday, thanks to some respite from Saddam’s capture. The website deals with contracts of just about any type – except of course anything that is macabre for macabre's sake according to CEO John Delaney. A macabre contract could be for instance, a contract based on the odds of a political leader being assassinated.

Delaney, an investment professional, co-founded TradeSports.com in 2002. The site currently handles about $1 billion in trades and on certain exceptional contracts like Saddam it trades up to $15 million.

Another hot pick is the capture of Osama Bin Laden. The contract linked to his capture by Dec. 31 is now trading at 50 cents, while odds his capture by June 30, 2004, contract is trading at US$2, with rumors floating that his capture would be near impossible.

The Middle East continues to draw attention. Investors can wager whether Yasser Arafat will leave Israel and the Palestinian territories by Dec. 31, with a trading price of 20 cents; whether a Palestinian state will be established by the end of 2005, trading at $2.60.

TradeSports.com also allows members to bet on stocks, weather, colors (green, blue, yellow, orange, red) which are the US security level alerts to sports. The company makes a commission by acting as a broker, takes a margin of 4 cents for each $10 contract traded between members.

Traditional investment analysts warn that members and customers are trading at their own risk, and that such websites are ideal for gamblers who don't want to risk real money can still speculate on world events.

Similarly, Foresight Exchange, which operates Ideosphere.com is among several websites where punters can test their predictive skills by betting on futures and

options exchanges, without actually losing money.

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