Jason Ruspini will answer SOME of these CFTC questions. – 12 days left, Jason.

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CFTC – (PDF file):

CFTC’-s Concept Release on the Appropriate Regulatory Treatment of Event Contracts

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V. Issues for Comment

A. Request for Comment

The following questions consider the Commission’-s regulatory purview over event contracts, the interests that may appropriately underlie Commission-regulated transactions, and the appropriate regulatory treatment of event contracts. The Commission encourages comments on the specific questions posed, as well as the broad range of issues raised in this concept release. In providing comments, please describe your relevant experience and discuss in detail the facts and legal provisions that support your conclusions. Furthermore, please consider the Commission’-s mandate to protect commodity futures and options markets and customers, and ensure the integrity of the commodity derivatives marketplace, as well as the expected effects of any Commission action on competition, efficiency, innovation and the financial integrity of transactions. Any recommendation with respect to the regulatory treatment of event contracts and markets should be consistent with and supported by the Act, practical, and amenable to effective and efficient implementation.

B. Public Interest

1. What public interests are served by event contracts that are designed and will principally be traded for information aggregation purposes and not for commercial risk management or pricing purposes?

2. How are these interests consistent with the public interest goals embodied in the Act?

3. What calculations, analyses, variables, and factors could be used to objectively determine the social value of information to the general public that may be discovered through trading in event contracts? Should this be a factor in determining whether the Commission plays a role in regulating these markets?

C. Jurisdictional Determinations

4. What characteristics or traits are common to or should be used to identify event contracts and event markets?

5. How do these characteristics and traits differ from those of commodity futures and options contracts that customarily have been regulated by the Commission? How are they similar?

6. Are there criteria based on the provisions of the Act that could be used to make jurisdictional determinations with respect to event contracts and markets?

7. Given the purposes and history of the Act, would it be appropriate for the Commission to apply a test premised on commercial risk management or pricing functions to demarcate the Commission’-s jurisdiction over particular contracts? If so, what factors could be used to make such a determination?

8. Given the purposes and history of the Act, would it be appropriate for the Commission to apply any test premised on the economic purpose of certain types of transactions to demarcate the Commission’-s jurisdiction over particular contracts? If so, what factors could be used to make such a determination?

9. What calculations, analyses, variables and factors would be appropriate in determining whether the impact of an occurrence or contingency will result in a financial, commercial or economic consequence that is identified in Section 1a(13) of the Act?

10. What calculations, analyses, variables, and factors would be appropriate in determining whether an economic or commercial index that is based on prices, rates, values, or levels should or should not qualify as an excluded commodity under Section 1a(13) of the Act?

11. What identifiable factors, statutorily based or otherwise, limit the events and measures that may underlie event contracts when such contracts are treated as Commission-regulated transactions?

12. What objective and readily identifiable factors, statutorily based or otherwise, could be used to distinguish event contracts that could appropriately be traded under Commission oversight from transactions that may be viewed as the functional equivalent of gambling?

13. The Commission notes that Section 12(e) of the Act generally provides that the CEA supersedes and preempts other laws, including state and local gaming and bucket shop laws, with respect to transactions executed on or subject to the rules of a Commission-regulated market, or with respect to transactions exempted from the Act pursuant to the Commission’-s exemptive authority under Section 4(c) of the Act. What are the implications of possibly preempting state gaming laws with respect to event contracts and markets that are treated as Commission-regulated or exempted transactions?

14. Should certain underlying events or measures –-such as those based on assassinations or terrorist activities–- be prohibited altogether due to the social perception and impact of such events? What statutory or other legal basis would support this treatment?

15. Are there event contracts, such as political event contracts, that should be prohibited from trading under the Act, or that deserve separate treatment or consideration, due to the nature and importance of their outcomes? What statutory or other legal basis would support this treatment?

D. Legal Implementation

16. Is it appropriate for the Commission to direct certain or all event contracts onto markets that are regulated differently from and perhaps less stringently than DCMs? For example, it may be warranted or necessary to treat event markets that aggregate information solely for academic or research purposes, event markets set-up for internal corporate purposes, or event markets that offer exceedingly low notional value contracts to traders differently than markets that possess the attributes of traditional DCMs.

17. Is it appropriate for the Commission to use the Section 4(c) exemptive authority of the Act for implementing a regulatory scheme for event contracts and markets? In this regard, the Commission notes that it has the discretion to grant an exemption under Section 4(c) to certain classes of transactions without having to make a determination as to whether such transactions are subject to the Act in the first instance.

18. Is the issuance of staff no-action relief, such as the relief issued to the IEM, an appropriate or preferable means for establishing regulatory certainty for event contracts and markets? Is a policy statement appropriate or preferable?

19. What are the benefits and drawbacks of permitting certain event markets to operate pursuant to Commission established conditions that are similar to the conditions under which the IEM operates?

E. Market Participants

20. Would it be appropriate to allow market participants, and in particular, retail customers, to trade on Commission-regulated event markets with the knowledge that the Commission may not be able to effectively monitor the measures or events that underlie certain event contracts?

21. What unique protections and prophylactic measures are appropriate or necessary for the protection of retail users of event contracts and markets?

22. What are the implications of permitting the intermediation of event contracts, including intermediation on behalf of retail market participants, both with respect to trade execution and clearing?

23. Are there any types of trader or intermediary conduct, peculiar to event contracts and markets, that should be prohibited or monitored closely by regulators?

24. What other factors could impact the Commission’-s ability, given its limited resources, to properly oversee or monitor trading in event contracts?

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THE MIDAS ORACLE TAKES:

- CALL TO ACTION: Let’-s fight so that the CFTC allows the FOR-PROFIT prediction exchanges to deal with “-event markets”-.

- In the for-profit vs not-for-profit debate, our prediction market luminaries, doctored by Bob, are on the wrong side of the issue.

- COMMENTS TO THE CFTC: What to expect from Tom W. Bell and Jason Ruspini

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BACKGROUND INFO:

- CFTC’s Concept Release on the Appropriate Regulatory Treatment of Event Contracts…- notably how they define “-event markets”-, how they are going to extend their “-exemption”- to other IEM-like prediction exchanges, and how they framed their questions to the public. Here are the comments to the CFTC.

- The Arnold &amp- Porter lawyers explain the meaning of the CFTC’-s concept release on “-event markets”-. —- (PDF file)

- What Vernon Smith told the CFTC.

- American Enterprise Institute’s proposals to legalize the real-money prediction markets in the United States of America

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How the CFTC try to define our prediction markets

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CFTC – (PDF file):

CFTC’-s Concept Release on the Appropriate Regulatory Treatment of Event Contracts

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II. Commodity Options and Futures and the Attributes of Event Contracts

The Commission, with some exceptions, has exclusive jurisdiction over two relevant types of derivative instruments —-commodity options and commodity futures contracts.

Section 4c(b) of the Act gives the Commission plenary jurisdiction over commodity options, and provides that “-[n]o person shall * * * enter into * * * any transaction involving any commodity regulated under this Act which is of the character of, or is commonly known to the trade as, an option * * * contrary to any rule, regulation or order of the Commission[.]”-

Section 2(a)(1)(A) of the Act provides that the Commission shall have exclusive jurisdiction with respect to accounts, agreements, and transactions (including options) involving contracts of sale of a commodity for future delivery.

Event contracts, depending on their underlying interests, can be designed to exhibit the attributes of either options or futures contracts.

A significant number of event contracts are structured as all-or-nothing binary transactions commonly described as binary options. 8 Binary event contracts typically pay out a fixed amount when an outcome either occurs or does not occur. The trading of such contracts can facilitate the discovery of information by assigning probabilities, through market-derived prices, to discrete eventualities. For example, a binary contract based on whether a particular person will run for the presidency in 2012, can pay a fixed $100 to its buyer if and only if that individual runs for the presidency in 2012. If the contract’-s traders believe that the likelihood of the individual’-s candidacy in 2012 is around 17 percent, the price of the contract will be around $17, and will approximate the market’-s consensus expectation of the individual’-s candidacy.

8 See, e.g., Intrade Prediction Markets, Current Events Contracts

In addition to binary event transactions, the term event contract has also been used to identify transactions, based on interests other than market prices, which resemble futures contracts. For instance, these types of event contracts can price consensus estimates of moving values, such as the number of hours the average U.S. resident spends in traffic or the share of votes that a particular candidate for political office may receive. Unlike binary transactions, and similar to any commodity futures contract, this type of contract creates continuous and ongoing obligations that are linked to moving measures or levels, as opposed to being dependent on the outcome of a single discrete occurrence.

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III. The Commission’-s Regulatory Purview

[...]

For the purpose of discussion and analysis, the types of event contracts that Commission staff has reviewed can be categorized, albeit imperfectly, as contracts that are based on narrow commercial measures and events, contracts based on certain environmental measures and events, and contracts based upon general measures and events.

Narrow commercial measures quantify and reflect the rate, value, or level of particularized commercial activity, such as a specific farmer’-s crop yield.

Narrow commercial events, on the other hand, are events that might, in and of themselves, have commercial implications, such as changes in corporate officers or corporate asset purchases.

Environmental measures can be characterized as quantifications of weather phenomena, such as the volatility of precipitation or temperature levels, that do not predictably correlate to commodity market prices or other measures of broad economic or commercial activity.

By comparison, environmental events can include the formation of a specific type of storm, within an identifiable geographic region, the likelihood of which will not predictably correlate to commodity market prices or measures of broad economic or commercial activity.

General measures can be described as measures that are not commercial or environmental measures. As such, general measures do not quantify the rate, value, or level of any commercial or environmental activity and can, for example, include the number of hours that U.S. residents spend in traffic annually or the vote-share of a particular presidential candidate.

Similarly, general events, such as whether a Constitutional amendment will be adopted or whether two celebrities will decide to marry, can be described as events that do not reflect the occurrence of any commercial or environmental event. The category of general measures and events can be further divided into a multitude of subcategories, such as political or entertainment measures or events.

Since 1992, Commission-regulated exchanges have listed for trading a variety of commodity futures and options contracts with payout terms based on interests other than price-based interests. These contracts involve interests as diverse as regional insured property losses, the count of bankruptcies, temperature volatilities, corporate mergers, and corporate credit events. 12

While not strictly price-based, the interests underlying these contracts have been viewed by Commission staff as having generally-accepted and predictable financial, commercial or economic consequences.

In other words, unlike the interests that event contracts cover, these underlying interests have been viewed as measures and occurrences that reasonably could be expected to correlate to market prices or other broad-based commercial or economic measures or activities.

12 For example, the Chicago Board of Trade’-s catastrophe single event insurance option contracts (which are no longer listed) paid out a fixed amount if and only if insured property damage exceeded $10 billion for a specific region during a specified interval of time.

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The lawyerly questions that the CFTC are asking to Tom W. Bell

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CFTC – (PDF file):

CFTC’-s Concept Release on the Appropriate Regulatory Treatment of Event Contracts

-

V. Issues for Comment

A. Request for Comment

The following questions consider the Commission’-s regulatory purview over event contracts, the interests that may appropriately underlie Commission-regulated transactions, and the appropriate regulatory treatment of event contracts. The Commission encourages comments on the specific questions posed, as well as the broad range of issues raised in this concept release. In providing comments, please describe your relevant experience and discuss in detail the facts and legal provisions that support your conclusions. Furthermore, please consider the Commission’-s mandate to protect commodity futures and options markets and customers, and ensure the integrity of the commodity derivatives marketplace, as well as the expected effects of any Commission action on competition, efficiency, innovation and the financial integrity of transactions. Any recommendation with respect to the regulatory treatment of event contracts and markets should be consistent with and supported by the Act, practical, and amenable to effective and efficient implementation.

B. Public Interest

1. What public interests are served by event contracts that are designed and will principally be traded for information aggregation purposes and not for commercial risk management or pricing purposes?

2. How are these interests consistent with the public interest goals embodied in the Act?

3. What calculations, analyses, variables, and factors could be used to objectively determine the social value of information to the general public that may be discovered through trading in event contracts? Should this be a factor in determining whether the Commission plays a role in regulating these markets?

C. Jurisdictional Determinations

4. What characteristics or traits are common to or should be used to identify event contracts and event markets?

5. How do these characteristics and traits differ from those of commodity futures and options contracts that customarily have been regulated by the Commission? How are they similar?

6. Are there criteria based on the provisions of the Act that could be used to make jurisdictional determinations with respect to event contracts and markets?

7. Given the purposes and history of the Act, would it be appropriate for the Commission to apply a test premised on commercial risk management or pricing functions to demarcate the Commission’-s jurisdiction over particular contracts? If so, what factors could be used to make such a determination?

8. Given the purposes and history of the Act, would it be appropriate for the Commission to apply any test premised on the economic purpose of certain types of transactions to demarcate the Commission’-s jurisdiction over particular contracts? If so, what factors could be used to make such a determination?

9. What calculations, analyses, variables and factors would be appropriate in determining whether the impact of an occurrence or contingency will result in a financial, commercial or economic consequence that is identified in Section 1a(13) of the Act?

10. What calculations, analyses, variables, and factors would be appropriate in determining whether an economic or commercial index that is based on prices, rates, values, or levels should or should not qualify as an excluded commodity under Section 1a(13) of the Act?

11. What identifiable factors, statutorily based or otherwise, limit the events and measures that may underlie event contracts when such contracts are treated as Commission-regulated transactions?

12. What objective and readily identifiable factors, statutorily based or otherwise, could be used to distinguish event contracts that could appropriately be traded under Commission oversight from transactions that may be viewed as the functional equivalent of gambling?

13. The Commission notes that Section 12(e) of the Act generally provides that the CEA supersedes and preempts other laws, including state and local gaming and bucket shop laws, with respect to transactions executed on or subject to the rules of a Commission-regulated market, or with respect to transactions exempted from the Act pursuant to the Commission’-s exemptive authority under Section 4(c) of the Act. What are the implications of possibly preempting state gaming laws with respect to event contracts and markets that are treated as Commission-regulated or exempted transactions?

14. Should certain underlying events or measures –-such as those based on assassinations or terrorist activities–- be prohibited altogether due to the social perception and impact of such events? What statutory or other legal basis would support this treatment?

15. Are there event contracts, such as political event contracts, that should be prohibited from trading under the Act, or that deserve separate treatment or consideration, due to the nature and importance of their outcomes? What statutory or other legal basis would support this treatment?

D. Legal Implementation

16. Is it appropriate for the Commission to direct certain or all event contracts onto markets that are regulated differently from and perhaps less stringently than DCMs? For example, it may be warranted or necessary to treat event markets that aggregate information solely for academic or research purposes, event markets set-up for internal corporate purposes, or event markets that offer exceedingly low notional value contracts to traders differently than markets that possess the attributes of traditional DCMs.

17. Is it appropriate for the Commission to use the Section 4(c) exemptive authority of the Act for implementing a regulatory scheme for event contracts and markets? In this regard, the Commission notes that it has the discretion to grant an exemption under Section 4(c) to certain classes of transactions without having to make a determination as to whether such transactions are subject to the Act in the first instance.

18. Is the issuance of staff no-action relief, such as the relief issued to the IEM, an appropriate or preferable means for establishing regulatory certainty for event contracts and markets? Is a policy statement appropriate or preferable?

19. What are the benefits and drawbacks of permitting certain event markets to operate pursuant to Commission established conditions that are similar to the conditions under which the IEM operates?

E. Market Participants

20. Would it be appropriate to allow market participants, and in particular, retail customers, to trade on Commission-regulated event markets with the knowledge that the Commission may not be able to effectively monitor the measures or events that underlie certain event contracts?

21. What unique protections and prophylactic measures are appropriate or necessary for the protection of retail users of event contracts and markets?

22. What are the implications of permitting the intermediation of event contracts, including intermediation on behalf of retail market participants, both with respect to trade execution and clearing?

23. Are there any types of trader or intermediary conduct, peculiar to event contracts and markets, that should be prohibited or monitored closely by regulators?

24. What other factors could impact the Commission’-s ability, given its limited resources, to properly oversee or monitor trading in event contracts?

Speculating on event derivative markets is not investing.

No GravatarUltra pertinent remark from the Club For Growth blogger:

[The New York Post video] is an informative video, but I want to quibble about two things. I view the term “-investing”- as the act of buying an asset with the hopes of it appreciating in value sometime in the future. Used correctly, you “-invest”- in a new home, a company on the stock exchange, or a baseball card collection.

However, you can’-t “-invest”- in politics as the New York Post reporter said you could. The reason why you can’-t is because contracts sold on prediction markets like InTrade.com are not assets- they are derivatives. Their value is based on the outcome of some event. Like futures contracts for frozen concentrated orange juice. […-]

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I have been blogging about that for years, here, on Midas Oracle.

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Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • If Midas Oracle were to meet, would we use Huddle, and why?
  • WORLD’S SUCH A SMALL PLACE: Smarkets meet HubDub.
  • 50% of our prediction market luminaries have a MacBook.
  • STRAIGHT FROM OUR TRUISM DEPARTMENT: Money buys happiness.
  • Ron Paul (R) and Barney Frank (D) ally together to attack “the practical hurdles of the federal law, known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, rather than its legitimacy”.
  • Clicking on the “SPHERE: RELATED CONTENT” button, at the bottom of each Midas Oracle post, will bring you a list of external webspots.
  • FRIGHTENING: Jed Christiansen’s prediction market blog was briefly overtaken by web spammers, who inserted invisible links to their commercial sites so as to game the Google PageRank system.

Meet David Jack, the managing director of TradeFair.

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David Jack is on the right…- (here with Andrew “-Bert”- Black, the BetFair co-founder).

David Jack, the managing director of TradeFair

David Jack (Managing Director of TradeFair, a BetFair spin-off)

Previously: Binaries and Spreads: BetFair spins off TradeFair.

NEXT: Why does Tradefair care about Prediction Markets – by TradeFair’-s David Jack – 2007-12-06

Binaries and Spreads: BetFair spins off TradeFair.

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Via “-jwolstenholme”- and via Niall O’-Connor, who got the scoop, here’-s UK-based TradeFair (Binaries and Spreads):

TradeFair

–-&gt- David Jack (Managing Director of TradeFair) —- (Thanks to Niall for the LinkedIn link.)

A virtual tour of InTrade, the leading prediction exchange for North America

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John Delaney guides you inside the InTrade prediction markets. (YouTube videos)

#1. Welcome to InTrade

#2. Welcome to Trading 101 – InTrade

#3. Trading 101 on InTrade

Interesting. Well done. I hope we will have much more videos like these from all of the prediction market industry players, in the coming months.