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On Which Candidate Are Gambling Bookies Betting?

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- We know how Karl Rove and James Carville are betting on the election. But how about Vinnie The Pipe, Hot Horse Herbie and Nathan Detroit? Gamblers have long shown themselves to be accurate predictors of U.S. presidential elections. So, who are they betting on this time — and by what margin?

They're betting on Obama. By how much depends on what group of gamblers you ask. Some of the biggest can be found laying down presidential bets on gambling websites such as Intrade (based in Ireland) and on online U.K. bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill. Presidential betting doesn't take place in Las Vegas (at least not legally), since U.S. law forbids it domestically.

Intrade and the two English bookies, however, being based overseas, aren't subject to that same restriction. Carl Wolfenden, exchange operations manager for Intrade, tells ABC News it's a common misconception U.S. citizens can't bet on presidential elections.

Nearly three quarters of Intrade's presidential bets (73 percent) come from the U.S., he says. Though credit card companies block payments from U.S. gamblers, they can pay by check. "Americans can do it," he explains. "It's just inconvenient."

Intrade has taken bets on the past two U.S. presidential elections. How accurate have gamblers been? "They've been pretty good," says Wolfenden. In '04 they bet on Bush and correctly called results in all 50 states. In '08 they predicted Obama and got 48 states right (they bet wrong on Missouri and Indiana).

This year, bettors at all three online book makers favor Obama. Ladbrokes gives him odds of 1-to-5 (versus Romney's 7-to-2). William Hill scores them, respectively, 2-to-9 and 16-to-5.

Presidential betting options have grown more exotic in recent years, notes Marketwatch. For instance you can now bet not just on the general election but on the number of votes each candidate will rack up in the Electoral College. Intrade on Monday offered odds on whether or not Romney would release more tax returns. If he had, you'd have collected 1,000-to-one.

Some of the juiciest odds apply to which candidate wins which state.

Though killings can be made on some state bets, the state market, says Intrade's Wofenden, tends to be thinly traded. "We've been very happy with volumes on the main market but a bit surprised and disappointed by the state markets," he said, though he's not sure why. "There are some very exciting states. Virginia and Colorado are still toss-ups." A really bold gambler, he says could "punt" and bet on Obama's winning North Carolina, where polls have him losing by a substantial margin.

Who'll win Ohio? Intrade gives a 71.8 percent probability to Obama's winning; 30.3 percent to Romney.

Bookmakers already are taking odds on the 2016 election, with Ladbrokes giving 3-to-1 odds that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, compared to 200-to-1 for Chelsea Clinton and 100-to-1 each for George Clooney and Michelle Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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