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Intrade's Iffy Future

Washington thinks political races shouldn’t be hedged
Intrade's Iffy Future

A pack of online bettors known as Intraders, who wager real money on the outcomes of current events, have been hailed as election oracles ever since they predicted President Obama would win in 2008. This year they were spot-on again, correctly forecasting the presidential election results in 49 states. (The hive missed Florida.) But if regulators have their way, the 2012 election was Intrade’s last.

On Nov. 26, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued Dublin-based Intrade, which also runs an array of financial product prediction markets, and banned it from soliciting U.S. customers. The civil lawsuit accuses Intrade of operating an unregistered exchange, citing its options for gold and crude oil, as well as the options for predicting whether the U.S. unemployment rate or gross domestic product would reach certain levels by specific dates. The government also says Intrade violated a 2005 settlement in which the company agreed to stop offering similar types of online betting. Intrade declined to comment.