Friday, February 10, 2006

Betting on the Outcome of the Enron Trial

In a sure sign the the Enron conspiracy trial is a major event in American legal history, or that internet entrepreneurs will stop at nothing to create a gambling opportunity (although probably not with Rick Tocchet's former operation), there are at least two places on which one can place a bet on the outcome of the trial.  A New York Post story (here) discusses the internet gaming site, which has the odds of a conviction overwhelmingly favoring a conviction (see AP story here).  The site operates out of Costa Rica, and it's not clear whether the person setting the betting line has any legal training, or has been put to sleep in the courtroom by the turgid pace of the trial.  Unlike a sporting event in which all wagering closes at the start of the contest, the Enron trial is a very slow moving train, so the odds will likely fluctuate with ebbs and flows of the proceeding.  CNN.Com reports (here) that Intrade Exchange, a Dublin, Ireland-based futures firm, has set up futures contracts on the outcome of the trial, with purchasers able to buy units pegged to whether Skilling will be convicted on four or more of the seven counts against him and Lay convicted on 16 or more of the 31 counts against him.  Intrade has a number of futures contracts based on different types of events, including whether the U.S. will bomb Iran before June 2006 and the 2008 presidential nomination races. 

Given the pace of the Enron trial, which started with a bang when Judge Sim Lake picked a jury in one day and has now had the first government witness chew up seven trial days with at least one more to come, anyone who bet the under on trial length has a sure loser (see Tom Kirkendall's post (here) on the Houston's Clear Thinkers blog discusses the timing issues).  Rather than betting on a conviction, which is rather unseemly, an interesting exercise would be to figure out other prop bets on the trial that have nothing to do with the outcome, similar to prop bets on the Super Bowl like which team will win the coin toss or score the first touchdown.  For example, who will be the first attorney to attempt a Johnnie Cochran rhyme, which defendant will testify first, or will the judge will hold anyone in contempt.  Feel free to add suggestions in the comment section.  (ph)

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How about...when will Fastow's testimony begin? How many days will it last?

Posted by: Kate | Feb 15, 2006 12:05:30 PM

I hate to say it, but I think that Skilling and Lay will not be convicted. I hate to say even more that they SHOULD be found NOT guilty. In the final analysis, they took down Enron because of failed corporate governance, poor judgment and bad management. Until management practice gets more systematic in its approach, these types of debacles will continue. That Skilling and Lay played within the rules speaks more to the shoddy management rulebook than to their legal culpability.

Posted by: Thomas Tunstall | Mar 14, 2006 2:50:39 PM

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