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Are folks gambling like crazy on Trump? Bet on it

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/04/2017 Kim Hjelmgaard, and Jane Onyanga-Omara

Will Donald Trump be impeached? Will he build his wall? Will he commission his face added to Mount Rushmore?

Those are some of the bets gamblers in Britain and Ireland are making about the new U.S. president. They are so fascinated about him, in fact, that one of the largest betting companies here is hiring a full-time bookmaker just to handle the crush of Trump wagers.

"Anything to do with Trump gets interest, from the serious and realistic — such as the chance he might be impeached — to ridiculous things such as the likelihood the White House will be painted gold or that Trump could donate California to Russia," said Lee Price, a representative for Dublin-based Paddy Power Betfair.

An ad for a full-time Trump bookmaker was posted last week, and hundreds of applicants have applied for the job, Price said. 

The firm has devoted a whole section of its website to Trump betting "specials." It offers odds of 3-1 that Trump will be impeached this year, 100-1 that he will commission his face to be added to Mount Rushmore, 25-1 that Mexico will fund the construction of a wall that Trump wants to build along the southern border, and 7-1 that the FBI will confirm collusion between Trump associates and Russia to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  

The company wouldn't disclose how much money has been placed on Trump wagers overall but said Trump was the company's top "novelty market" last year, and that tens of thousands of Trump bets have been placed worth several million dollars. The average Trump-related bet was $25. 

Price said Paddy Power Betfair paid out more than $5 million to customers as a result of Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton. Trump bets are 50 times more popular than bets on Barack Obama at the start of his presidency.

© Provided by USA Today Most of Paddy Power Betfair's business involves bets on sports, such as soccer and rugby, but it also offers wagers on politics, entertainment and special events. Rival British gambling firms such as Ladbrokes and William Hill also offer Trump-related bets. 

"Sometimes, believe it or not, these (unusual bets) materialize into profit," said Mark Griffiths, an expert on gambling and behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

Richard Rowbotham, 44, a musician from London, said he won more than $6,800 at Paddy Power by betting that Trump would win the GOP nomination and on Trump becoming president.

“I’ve never been a gambler but I’m interested in politics. Paddy Power has opened up a whole new market," Rowbotham said.

One gambler, however, isn't taking the Trump bait. "I don’t think so," said Desmond Pellini, 70, when asked outside a London bet shop if he would place a wager on Trump. "I prefer to bet on horses."

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