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A market in flux? You can bet on it

October 16, 2005|From the Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — In the online betting world, gamblers can lay their money down on everything from the fifth race at Belmont to the Little League World Series.

Now they can bet on -- or against -- the housing market.

Pinnacle Sports (pinnaclesports.com), an online oddsmaker, has rolled out betting options for U.S. median housing prices.

Gamblers can roll the dice on whether quarterly home prices in a handful of metro areas will surpass or sink below where the website's oddsmakers see them going.

"With all the talk there's been about home prices, it just seemed like a natural to offer it," said Simon Noble, Pinnacle Sports' chief executive.

"Early signs are that there appears to be an East-West divide," he said.

"In California, people believe that the house market is stagnating or even falling. On the East Coast, they think it's going to continue to rise."

Such wagering is not legal in all states. And at any given time, bettors might not even find the housing category offered. The bookmaker tends to introduce and then abruptly remove these novelty bets (it previously laid odds on where gas prices would level off) with some unpredictability.

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