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Betting site ‘wildly wrong’ on Greek vote, pays out for mistake

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To € or not to €? That is the question for Greeks this Sunday.Photograph by Denis Charlet — AFP/Getty Images

The online bookmaker Paddy Power paid out thousands of euros to gamblers who incorrectly predicted that Greeks would vote in favor of proposed austerity measures in Sunday’s referendum. The Irish betting site was so confident of a yes vote that it began the payouts early – a mistake that proved costly after the Greeks issued a resounding 61 percent “no” to the austerity terms.

“Paddy Power is feeling a little red faced this morning after calling the Greek referendum wildly wrong … [We] got a little overexcited,” the oddsmaker said in an email to Bloomberg, which reported the story, adding that it “paid out five figures” on July 1.

Such early payouts, which occur when oddsmakers believe the outcome of a wager is a foregone conclusion, are apparently not unusual. The benefit for the oddsmaker is that the early payout can attract publicity, and also induce gamblers to “recycle” their winnings into a new wager.

Meanwhile, Paddy Power is now offering betters 5/4 odds that Greece will leave the eurozone and adopt another currency (presumably the drachma) by the end of 2015. You can see the current odds for other countries dropping the euro in the screenshot further below.

Such bets can act as entertainment for gamblers, but can also serve as a “futures market” of sorts for important political events. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Pentagon even floated the idea of a betting market to predict terrorist acts, but the idea was killed in the face of political outrage.

Paddy Power is not available in the United States, where online gambling is regulated far more strictly than in Europe. Here are the latest leave-the-euro odds:

PaddyPower odds