Framing odds on an American presidential election is as easy as buying a gun in the United States. Becoming the first bookmaker to accept bets on a Nobel Peace Prize vote was one of my greatest challenges as Centrebet’s Media Manager.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee‘s announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is Norway’s biggest annual media event. Because Centrebet was the Scandinavian country’s favourite corporate bookmaker in the Noughties, breaking new ground and betting on the 2003 recipient’s identity was appealing.
Unfortunately, whereas American presidential elections are, to all intents and purposes, two-person races in which the central figures are household names around the world, Nobel Peace Prize votes are contests in which there are hundreds of individuals and organisations on the ballot paper. And what increases the degree of bookmaking difficulty to that of a reverse four-and-a-half somersault dive in the pike position off a 10-metre platform is the Norwegian Nobel Committee does not reveal the nominations until 50 years after conducting its secret vote. If you are lucky, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announces the total number of eligible nominations and, in 2003, there were 165.
Imagine just for one moment framing odds on a 165-runner thoroughbred race in which you did not know anything about the gallopers, publicising the market to media organisations around the globe and accepting bets to win thousands of dollars. The internet was still in its infancy in 2003 but, following a full week of background reading, forum browsing and Google searching, I compiled one of Centrebet’s highest risk books and invited the world’s punters to place bets.
I installed Pope John Paul II as Centrebet’s initial 2003 Nobel Peace Prize favourite purely for publicity purposes but, away from the pontiff, my market reflected my genuine assessment of the race. And the eventual laureate, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, was Centrebet’s joint fourth favourite at 16-1 when my odds went live online.
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