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No More Betting on Russia’s Election

Way back in May, I blogged about what could be learned about Operation Successor from the speculative futures market trading on the gambling site Trade Sports, where users could buy and sell the political futures of individuals such as Dmitri Medvedev, Sergei Lavrov, Vladimir Putin, and even the outsider high-odds bet of Garry Kasparov for the next president. Now, according to a Reuters report, it seems that the bookies are cutting off all wagers given that there is no more uncertainty. My first thought: what took them so long to suspend betting? My second: why not take wagers on the margin of victory? The latter question is one of great curiosity, as the Kremlin will be at pains to make it look as legitimate as possible while at the same time demonstrating overwhelming majority. I highly doubt that they would be so foolish as to imitate the organized elections of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein, both of whom had the remarkable ability to turn out 95% of the vote in their favor – however if abstention were to lead to a victory of only 65% or so (a landslide victory in any normal democracy), the bureaucrats would have to push some numbers around.