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When it comes to picking the next U.S. Supreme Court justice, the safe thing would be to put $100 on 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig. But if you really want to make some money, go with the long shot, the 9th Circuit’s Alex Kozinski. Both men are among the candidates listed at Betcom.com, an online betting site based in Costa Rica. The site, which sports a model dressed in an American flag-print bikini, lets people wager on everything from football scores to whether Bill and Hillary Clinton will get a divorce. “We have people that monitor what’s happening in the world, what’s newsworthy, so to speak,” said Betcom.com President Robert Evans. Last week, the site began taking wagers on whom President Bush would appoint to the high court. So far, more than 2,000 bets have been placed, according to the site. Besides Luttig and Kozinski, the list includes a dozen other candidates, complete with odds. Kozinski’s odds, for example, are expressed as “+1,500,” which means a $100 bet would return $1,500 if he’s picked. The odds are set by Betcom.com and won’t move with wagers. Gamblers can make pretty good money if state Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown gets the nod — her odds are +600, the same as former Solicitor General Theodore Olson — and even more in the unlikely event it’s Sen. Orrin Hatch, who’s at +1,200. You can also bet on who will be the next chief justice. Antonin Scalia is the favorite; David Souter, the long shot. Evans said Betcom.com came up with the candidates and odds by canvassing Internet and media sources, including Newsweek, Time and television stations, as well as injecting a little bit of personal opinion. There’s also an ulterior motive to the Supreme Court betting. The U.S. Department of Justice argues that Internet gambling, which is unregulated, is illegal, and it has moved to block major media outlets from accepting advertisements from Betcom.com and its competitors. Evans said the issue could eventually wind up in the high court itself, so he thought he’d drum up a little publicity by making the court itself the subject of wagers. Like a true gambler, Evans expressed Betcom.com’s motives in numbers: 80 percent is due to public interest in the Supreme Court, 20 percent because “of what our industry is up against.”

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