Paddy Power, a Dublin-based online bookmaker, was so confident President Barack Obama would defeat GOP challenger Mitt Romney and win re-election Tuesday that it already had paid out more than $650,000 before the results were in, the firm said on its blog.
Before the decision to pay out, Obama's odds fell to a low of 2-9, and Paddy Power Sportsbook had seen 75 percent of money staked go the president's way over the past months.
William Hill also shorted Obama's odds of being re-elected to 2-9, with Romney at 10-3 on Election Day.
Graham Sharpe, a spokesman with William Hill, said Wednesday the company took in more than $1.59 million in bets on the U.S. election for the first time. He said the London-based bookmaker "suffered a relatively modest five-figure loss thanks to Barack Obama's supporters."
A William Hill client who wagered $47,000 in a Manchester sports book on Obama to win re-election will collect about $108,000. Sharpe said a customer who bet $39,000 on Romney "has not fared so well."
"If nothing else, this election has proved that the bookies are a better guide to the outcome of the election than the pollsters who had it a far closer race than we did," Sharpe said.
Paddy Power was so confident in its decision to pay out early, it took out an advertisement in the Irish Times on Monday to promote what it said was a "gutsy call."
The ad read: "Sorry, Romney, you're not black or cool. We're paying out early on an Obama victory."
"The overall betting trend has shown one-way traffic for Obama, and punters seemed to have called it 100 percent correct," Paddy Power said in a statement on the company's website. "Despite Romney appealing to the large evangelical and senior vote, America's sticking with black and cool."
Paddy Power noted that Romney gave it "a good shot . . . but we suspect he's had his moment in the sun and is likely to be remembered more for his legendary gaffes than presidential potential."
The ad attracted the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland after a complaint was filed calling it prejudiced. Messages left with the ASAI on Wednesday were not returned, and no complaint had been posted on the regulatory agency's website.
The Daily Mail in London reported Wednesday that ASAI is investigating Paddy Power.
Paddy Power has made its support of Obama clear before. When the president visited Ireland in May 2011, the company renamed 13 of its sports books "Obama Power" and took bets on which pub Obama would visit to drink a pint of Guinness.
And by the way, William Hill on Wednesday started taking bets on the 2016 U.S. presidential election, posting 10-11 odds the Democrats will win the White House and 10-11 odds that the Republicans will do so.
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