Making Odds On Political Races

Larry Price
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Wednesday - August 23, 2006
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Maybe more people in Hawaii would turn out to vote if they could place bets on the results.

Hawaii doesn’t have a lottery or any kind of organized gambling. We are one of only three states with such a high moral position, yet unorganized gambling is a favorite topic for many idle minds. Unorganized gambling flourishes during certain times of year, like clockwork, all over the state. It begins with the final selections of the National Collegiate Basketball Championships. Championship brackets go up on walls all over the islands as soon as the pairings are listed.

It’s a kind of sickness. Most people don’t really care who wins the championship or who makes it to the Final Four. What they are interested in is the action. Who’s who becomes something to talk about rather than the usual current events gossip. People probably know as little about the Final Four as they do about who attacked whom first in the Middle East. The Middle East fighting might be dragging us into World War III, but not as many people care about that as they do about their alma mater making it to the “Sweet 16.”

It’s like a dance with the media providing the music. As professional football grinds to its Super Bowl conclusion, the sportscasters are pondering the outcome of a Major League Baseball World Series with two teams from the Southwest and how it will affect the television ratings. The brackets go up for the NCAA Basketball Championships, and when they go down, up go the NBA Championship brackets.

Locally, we are gearing up for high school football, which has long been a favorite of unorganized gambling. Do you remember all the buzz about “6-5” betting running rampant at the old Honolulu Stadium? Well, it’s running rampant at Aloha Stadium.

It’s really a phenomenon in Hawaii. Organized gambling is a definite no-no; however, Hawaii sends more people to Las Vegas, per capita, than any other state. It would appear that Hawaii’s residents love to gamble. Maybe we are so far away from everything exciting we have to bet on the outcome of displaced events to feel like we are part of the action.

To follow this kind of thinking to its illogical conclusion, imagine the latest word from the world of unorganized crime is that Chinatown has Sen. Dan Akaka giving Rep. Ed Case 20,000 votes in the upcoming primary election. Of course, there are other amateur political bookies who will take even money in the senatorial race. The only thing that has really changed in Chinatown is now they have a camera recording all the illegal action.

The possible truth is no one is really that interested in who’s running for what in Hawaii’s upcoming primary and general elections. Betting on the outcome may be just way to fake one’s interest. It’s kind of like people wanting to place a bet on the outcome of the Wake Forest vs. Boston College football game, while knowing nothing about the way either team plays the game. They want to talk the talk; it sounds cool.

The point is, don’t bet on the outcome of a political election. If you want to sound like you know something about Hawaii’s political game, then study the issues. Vote on it, don’t bet on it.

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