At least two of Australia's largest corporate bookmakers are refusing to pay out on tens of thousands of bets laid on Barack Obama's victory - on the grounds that he may be killed before he is inaugurated.
An angry punter contacted the Herald saying he was told by a senior Sportsbet bookie that the company would not pay out until the inauguration in January in case the president-elect was shot before he took office.
The Sportsbet chief executive, Matt Tripp, denied assassination was the company's main concern.
"It might have been a figure of speech among five or six other things," he said of the conversation between his company and the gambler.
"God forbid he has a stroke or gets hit by a bus," said Mr Tripp, who said Sportsbet had taken 30,000 bets on Senator Obama. "I love the bloke. I want to pay out on him. I think he is good for America and good for the world."
Mr Tripp said that payment at the time of inauguration was clearly stated in the company's terms and conditions for the bet.
The punter, who placed a $2000 bet to win $200, confirmed stroke had also been mentioned when he rang to complain, along with the possibility that the senator could be hit by a bus.
A spokesman for Centrebet said it also would not pay out until the inauguration as a matter of policy.
"[Assassination] is a horrible thought but it could happen," said Neil Evans.
He said such precautions were unnecessary in Australia because bets were taken on parties rather than candidates.
Some overseas agencies were accepting bets at up to 400-1 for Senator Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, up until election day, suggesting people were punting directly on the possibility of an assassination, said Mr Evans.
Other Australian bookmakers, such as Betfair and Sportingbet, have made good their books.
The Irish bookie Paddy Power was so sure of the election outcome that it paid out Obama-backers $2 million last month.
Sportsbet courted controversy earlier this year when it was revealed the company had been cold-calling people with a recorded spiel offering $60 in free bets if they opened an account.
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)
Media Man Australia Profiles