The Right Coast

August 21, 2005
Let's do it!
By Tom Smith

A few years ago I had the idea of setting up an on-line betting market on weather, weather events, warming and cooling, storms, all that good stuff. I went so far as to get a former student now at a big firm to look into it, price out advertizing on the Weather Channel (a natural!), and to see how much it would cost to get the web page designed and set up in Bangalore. Everyone I explained the idea to reacted with enthusiasm. They enthusiastically said it was one of the stupidest ideas they had ever heard of. Moreover, it seemed pretty illegal too, given laws against online gambling. But, it would have been pretty cheap to set up in Bangalore. Now, there is still more talk of doing it, what with global warming uncertainty and all.

I still think it's a swell idea, and will continue to say so until some 22 year old becomes a billionaire and then writes a book about how to get brilliant, original business ideas, called "The Spirit of the New Warrior Entrepreneur" or some such.

I'm still not completely sure it is illegal. Betting on purely random events like dice is gambling, games of chance are gambling, sports is gambling, but weather is none of those. Maybe it would be insurance, or something. Then you could add lines on such things as the Singularity and whether it gets here by 2050. I know there are already futures markets of sorts on scientific propositons and various event lines at online casinos. But they sure haven't gone Ebay. Just another way in which regulation has made our lives more dull. Maybe American Indians could do it; they claim in all the ads promoting a casino in my neighborhood to have a nature thing going. It's a natural.