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Iowa payback: Irish bookies to refund losing Santorum wagers

David Martosko Executive Editor

Now we’ve seen everything: A bookie with a conscience.

Ireland’s biggest online betting company is refunding bets placed by fans of Rick Santorum who thought the former Pennsylvania senator would win Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses.

“Having lost by only 8 votes, the Rick Santorum supporters had every reason to be disappointed,” a spokesman for Paddy Power said Thursday, “but as far as we’re concerned, the margin for error is just too small and we’ve decided to refund the money.”

The gaming site will refund more than $6,400 in a move that may prove to be downright practical, since Iowa precincts still have 12 days to officially certify their vote totals. It’s not out of the question that Santorum could emerge as the eventual winner.

Paddy Power takes bets on everything from soccer matches to the Golden Globes and reality TV shows — and that includes the U.S. political contests that have yet to be fought.

In the New Hampshire primary, the company’s oddsmakers have former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the lead, at 1-to-25 odds. That means a $100 bet would only pay $4 if Romney were to win. Santorum comes in a distant second, at 16-to-1, paying $1,600 for that same $100 wager. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the ultimate underdog, paying 80-to-1.

Romney also has the best betting odds to emerge as the Republican presidential nominee, at 1-to-5. After the Iowa caucuses, Santorum jumped into second place at 10-to-1. Again, Rick Perry brings up the rear at 50-to-1.

But whoever the GOP nominee is, Paddy Power seems to think Barack Obama will beat him. At 8-to-11, Obama has the best odds of winning, the company says. Romney is second, at 13-to-8.

The biggest surprise in that betting table, however, might be Hillary Clinton. She holds the No. 3 spot with 20-to-1 odds, beating both Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who are tied for fourth with 25-to-1 betting odds.

Rounding out the field are Newt Gingrich at 33-to-1, Jon Huntsman at 40-to-1, and — yet again — Rick Perry in the basement, at 100-to-1 odds.

That means a $100 bet today on the Texas governor would pay a whopping $10,000 if Perry were to become president.

David is The Daily Caller’s executive editor. Follow him on Twitter.