The trial only started last week but punters are already placing bets on the fate of former newspaper magnate Conrad Black. The online gaming site BetUS.com is placing odds on what verdict Black will get.
For the benefit of those who have been on, Black's been charged with racketeering, obstruction of justice, money laundering and wire fraud. So far, the court's been told how half a billion dollars in asset sales by the Hollinger International newspaper conglomerate were structured to funnel money to a Canadian holding company controlled by Black. The payments are at the heart of charges that Lord Black and three former Hollinger executives looted millions of dollars from the Hollinger newspaper empire they once ran. Companies that bought hundreds of community newspapers from Hollinger International made payments in return for promises that Hollinger wouldn't compete with them in markets where the newspapers circulated. According to the prosecutors, the millions of dollars in "non-compete" payments should have gone to Hollinger shareholders but went instead to Lord Black and his associates.
So what are his chances? The bets so far seem to be weighted heavily in favour of a guilty verdict but as Gambling911 says, putting your money on that is probably not a smart choice. The website has made Black a -5000 favorite to serve some jail time which means you have to bet $5000 just to see a $100 profit. Odds that Black will be found guilty on all charges are 2-1, guilty on some charges at 1-3 and not guilty of all charges at 10-1. Odds of a mistrial are 30-1, which means you would pick up $3000 just by placing $100.
You can also place a bet on Black's personal life. The odds of divorce are not great. On the question of his marriage to Barbara Amiel ending by the close of 2008, the odds are that the union will endure – some marriages are made in heaven, or wherever. The odds are 5 to 1 that it will survive and 1 to 10 that it won't.
Not surprisingly, most of the bets are coming from Canada.