Bets are off in Las Vegas
By CNN's Richard Quest
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Think of a game. Any game. Now try to put a bet on it. There's a fair chance that in Las Vegas someone will give you odds and take your money.
On everything, that is, except the U.S. presidential election.
It is against the law in Las Vegas (and thereby everywhere else) to bet on the outcome of the race for the White House.
Why? No-one seems entirely certain, but it probably has something to do with it being unseemly to bet on something as important as the White House.
Some members of Congress believe all spread betting is immoral and should be banned. The presidential election is just the big enchilada in this respect.
But of course, Las Vegas didn't get to be the gambling capital of the world without being canny.
And even though you can't bet in the city, and no casino is giving you the chance, there are plenty of betting services that are offering up the odds on this years race.
So for instance, Web sites like Americasline are giving odds out on who will win on November 2.
And they show the two are absolutely equal.
The Web site makes it clear that the odds are being offered for information and entertainment purposes only and that using this information is a violation of federal law.
Not that will worry those overseas too much. Because what this means is that in places where on-line betting is allowed like the UK, or offshore betting jurisdictions like the Carribean, these odds are being used as a barometer for those who are betting on the outcome.
"I think it is absolutely ludicrous. " He told me. "You look at any place around the world, whatever country you want to go to and you can bet on almost anything. I think we should be allowed to bet on the presidency. It would be great fun."
And he is of the view a lot of money would be wagered. "Superbowl-type sums would be bet. Hundreds of millions of dollars" he says.
Well, he knows a great deal more about the subject than me.
Even though the odds mean no-one will make a fortune unless they bet a great deal of money, a quick non-scientific poll on the Las Vegas told me he might be right!
One woman and her husband wanted to bet $100 on Kerry (Last of the big spenders there.) Another man would bet a thousand dollars on Bush. One couple even got into an intra-marital bidding war. He wanted a grand on Kerry. She offered up three.
But proving that Las Vegas is the last of the big talking towns -- one man said if he had a hundred million dollars he would bet a million on Kerry.
Frankly I wasn't sure he had the price of a cujp of coffee. But he talked it well and probably could have talked me out of the busfare home.
Welcome to Las Vegas. Just don't bet on who will be president!