Playing Politics For Money

predict_itSomewhere in the corners of the B3TZ competitive landscape live “prediction markets”. I’ve been tracking these for years, most infamously Intrade and Crowdpark, since they border more on the B3TZ demographic (i.e. social game players, NOT gamblers or financial traders).

PredictIt popped up on NYT yesterday and I thought I’d give it a look and revisit that part of the B3TZ compete landscape for a few minutes.

The game itself is a pretty standard for-money prediction maketplace, currently focused exclusively on politics. Various political scenarios are presented as “markets” — Will Clinton will poll about 60% by July 1? Will Biden run? — and then you buy and sell shares in those markets as the mechanism to make your bets, er.. predictions. Exactly like a financial exchange, or HSX for that matter. It looks like a lot of fun if you’re a finance geek, for sure. Probably not going to pull in the Facebook slots crowd.

More interestingly, though, PredictIt was founded and funded as a supposedly academic exercise out of Victoria University in Wellington, NZ, the same institution that brought us iPredict — itself an entity that has generated some curious ethical discussions, shall we say. Sumfin’s goin’ on in Hobbitland, not sure what.

I’m also not sure what to do with the fact that PredictIt is attached to a political information + tools company. Their intentions to get into the US Market ahead of the 2016 elections, however, look pretty clear — and they did it right by going down the path of The Iowa Electronic Markets to get the US Ministry of Silly Financial Products (ok, the CFTC) to OK their money-betting project in advance. Exactly like InTrade catastrophically did NOT.

Sadly when I tried to sign up for PredictIt this morning I was told that they “are not available in my location.” Hmmm.. I’m sure there’s an innocent reason for me not having access, but it did cross my mind that if you want to control market direction you need to control access. Tinfoil hat alert!

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