If I Were A Betting Man ...



If I were a betting man, I'd bet that the Valley of the Sun is going to collapse under the weight of its own profligacy.

According to a recent article in The Arizona Republic, people in the Valley are now betting on local home prices on an Internet gambling site.

"PinnacleSports.com set the Phoenix-area resale average at $263,000," Republic reporter Glen Creno writes. "Bettors wager whether the number will be over or under that."

With its bloated home prices, foul air, and obscene water consumption, the Valley is always an easy target, but you can actually place over-under wagers on home prices in 40 U.S. markets on PinnacleSports.com. You can also bet on the next Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, and on just about anything else you want.

If you think the human race has a gambling problem, consider columnist Pat Ronan's thoughts on the subject. Ronan denies that he himself is a "degenerate gambler," just a bad one:

"I hate the horse track. I don't play a weekly football card. And I've never even been to a casino. I couldn't afford any of that.

"But I'm the guy who makes THAT bet. The one you'll be telling your friends about for years to come."

Ronan says he gambles with his heart instead of his brain, and usually on the Boston Red Sox. With a month to go in the baseball season and the Red Sox clinging to a precarious lead over the Yankees, he gave a buddy 4 to 1 odds that the Red Sox would win the division.

He lost, and I can relate. Once on a trip back to our home state of Michigan my son and I were watching the Detroit Tigers play those same hated Yankees.

The Tigers were leading 7-1 going into the ninth inning with the Yankees at bat. After the first out, they loaded the bases, and my son began to complain that the Tigers were going to blow another one.

Exasperated with his attitude I said, "Zach, if the Tigers blow this lead I'll give you $100." I gave him the best odds of all: he didn't have to put up a cent.

You can guess what happened next. The Yankees scored eight times and won 9-7.

Like Ronan, however, I don't gamble in casinos. And until last week, I had never bought a lottery ticket in my life. There is just something about those gazillion-to-one odds that don't do much for me.

Then the Powerball hit something like $300 million. After declining to participate in an office consortium that was buying a huge bloc of tickets, I finally agreed to go halves with a friend on a single ticket -- an investment of two quarters.

The fact that you are reading this tells you I did not end up splitting $300 million, because if I had, I would be somewhere exotic.

The experience got me to thinking, however. At a time when our local town is struggling mightily with the issue of new subdivisions vs. tourism as the town's primary economic engine, maybe it's time for a new option.

Maybe it's time to legalize gambling within town limits and open some town-controlled betting parlors (how about a parlor in every dollar store). Of course, we couldn't compete with Vegas on some of the big-ticket wagers like the World Series and the Super Bowl, so I propose our wagers be over local issues.

How, for example, would you bet on:

  • Whether water from the Diamond Star area will ever be piped to Payson?
  • Whether Diamond Star will be dewatered as a result?
  • What year Blue Ridge Reservoir water will get to Payson?
  • Even if it gets to Payson, will Blue Ridge water ever reach the smaller communities in northern Gila County that are entitled to a share?
  • Whether a bronze elk will ever grace the weed-infested mound of dirt that now adorns the roundabout at Highway 87 and Tyler Parkway. Hey, how about a field of bronze weeds instead? Various civic groups could each sponsor a weed, making the project quite affordable. But I digress.
  • What the next town council will look like once all the controversy swirling around it settles? Or will Ken Murphy, like Julius Caesar, make a triumphant return and take the city by force?
  • Whether our local community college will ever shed the surly bonds of controversy?
  • Whether Gila County will ever be fairly apportioned?

Of course, you can always sate your gambling thirst at a slot machine, but that's so mindless. By going to one of the town's dollar store/betting parlors and making educated guesses on the above, you can assist the local economy while exercising your brain.

Or you could use the same money to buy and hoard bottled water.

If I were a betting man, that's the way I think I'd go.

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