A Good Bet

The U.S. Supreme Court has finally solved the judicial financial crisis. In case you missed it, the court last week said states can legalize gambling. Is there a sport more compelling than litigation?

I’m sure you have questions about this, so here’s a FAQ on the topic of legal litigation betting:

Wouldn’t betting on trials damage public confidence in the court system?

What public confidence?

Actually, just the opposite would be true. Millions of people who were completely ignorant about the judicial system and rarely gave it a thought would suddenly be intensely interested. Trials would be on television every day. An industry would spring up compiling statistics for every courtroom, and expert opinion jobs would be created. The Daily Hearing Form would be a Daily Racing Form sister publication.

And judges would have fan clubs and T-shirts!

What kind of wagers can you make on lawsuits?

There are many options, but horseracing offers the best model. A Pick Six pool on a courtroom’s motion docket, for example, should be extremely popular and offer some potentially lucrative payoffs. To win, you’d need to pick the winners of six consecutive motions. If no one picks all six, the betting pool is carried over to the next six motions.

Criminal trials can be used for win, place and show wagers. For example, you could place a win bet on a first-degree murder conviction, a place bet for second degree, and a show bet for manslaughter.

Isn’t there something unethical about this?

Let’s not over-think this.

Seriously, though, what if litigants bet on their own cases?

Good idea. You could lose your case and still get your damages by betting against yourself.

Yes, but what if litigants sabotaged their own cases?

This is an interesting issue because tanking is a common practice in all sports. If you know that a team or law firm is trying to lose, does that affect the integrity of the wagering? Does it matter if the team or law firm is trying to lose to win a bet or to gain an advantage in later hearings?

Bettors would need to take all of this into account.

But, but …

Oh, all right. The referees (aka judges) can be charged to nullify any attempts to tank by sanctioning players and/or throwing them in jail. There could be side bets on the number of contempt citations.

A directed verdict in favor of a team trying to lose would be both entertaining and ironic.

How will courts benefit financially from this?

So many ways. I see betting windows in courthouses, calendar/program sales, priority seating ticket sales, and a court-run fantasy league. Courts, obviously, will be entitled to a share of betting pools and there should be revenue from streaming rights.

There’s also merchandising. I, for one, am looking forward to starting my collection of lawyer bobbleheads.

Isn’t there a danger that some lawyers will take advantage of this to get their faces on TV?


The ruling. By the way, in case you haven’t read the ruling (aka Murphy v. NCAA), it doesn’t say there’s a constitutional right to gamble. I don’t recommend reading it — it’s a long ramble on semantics that boils down to saying the federal government can ban gambling but it can’t tell states to ban gambling.

So Congress can still stop the upcoming sports and litigation gambling explosion. Want to bet on whether that happens?

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