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<   No. 1451   2007-01-16   >

Comic #1451

1 {scene: Gryffindor common room}
1 Hermione: Have you finished that Arithmancy essay yet, Will? I can check it for you.
2 Will: Yes, Hermione, and I can check yours. Here.
3 Hermione: It's so... stimulating to work with someone so diligent. Harry and Ron never finish their work on time. Always other things on their minds...
4 {scene change: The office, where Will is typing at his desk}
4 Ophelia: Have you finished that documentation yet, Will? I can check it for you.
4 Shakespeare: Uh... no, oops...

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I read today that British bookmakers had opened betting on who kills Harry Potter in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Of course this is based on the assumption that Harry will die, which is by no means certain at this point. Apparently if he survives the release of the book, these bets will be void and the wagers refunded.

Anyway, according to the article I read, Voldemort is the odds-on favourite, at 4-5. Draco Malfoy is 6-1, but so is Ron Weasley for some reason. Presumably Ron finally gets jack of Harry getting all the limelight and offs him by sabotaging his Quidditch broom. A surprisingly strong performer is Harry himself, based on the idea that maybe he realises he has to sacrifice himself to save the wizarding world, and so deliberately does himself in.

As well as this fun, some bookies are taking bets on which major characters will die in book 7. I'm not going to reveal anything even remotely resembling a spoiler here, for the wrath of Harry Potter fans is not to be underestimated, but after the events of Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince, and certain comments from J. K. Rowling herself, there may be some reason to suppose that a non-zero number of characters might be placed in some sort of situation where they may suffer potentially dangerous circumstances in Deathly Hallows. Or not. Anyway, people are laying bets on it.

You know, if Rowling wasn't already the richest person in the entire Universe*, she could make a killing placing bets through third parties.

* Hyperbole.

2016-09-09 Rerun commentary: SPOILERS:

So, given how events actually turned out in Deathly Hallows, I wonder if the bookies paid up or voided the wagers. Good arguments could be made for either case. If I was the bookies, I'd be arguing very strongly for whichever interpretation gave me the greatest profit.

(These are the same British bookies who were dead cert sure the UK would vote to remain in the EU, by the way.)

[written about 15 minutes later]: Well, I just spent the past 15 minutes trying to find some interesting novelty bets on online betting sites to point at, but pretty much every single betting site I looked at funnelled me straight into sports betting, with no obvious navigation links to the availability of any non-sports betting at all. It was only be explicitly searching for "political betting" that I finally found a site offering betting on political events. I'm not even going to link it now, out of spite. And I don't really want to encourage anyone to gamble either.

EDIT: A reader writes:

A successful bookie doesn't care who wins - he makes exactly the same profit regardless, about 10%. The only way the bookie doesn't make money is if the bet is voided - 10% of nothing, after all...

Also, not quite true that the bookies thought the UK would vote "Remain". The punters on average thought the UK would vote "Remain" - the bookies just set the odds based on how people are betting. They don't take views beyond "not enough people are betting on this result, lengthen the odds" and its inverse.

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