Inferring Risk Preferences Using Synthetic Win Bets in Horse Betting “Exotic” Markets

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Philip O'Connor


Exotic bets: exactas, trifectas and superfectas are complicated gambles that depend on the ordering of horse in a race that can be studied by converting them into “synthetic” or “virtual” win bets. Using two ways of constructing synthetic win bets, it is shown that the favorite-longshot bias is a poor description of the returns of the trifecta and superfecta synthetic win bet. Rather, consistent with financial markets, the standard deviation of the payout of the synthetic win bet better describes the different returns of synthetic win bets.It is found that the synthetic win market dislikes standard deviation and kurtosis (and other higher-order even moments) and likes skewness (and other higher order odd moments), implying participants conform to standard utility theory in their choice between win and synthetic win bets and are not risk-loving. A co-efficient of relative risk aversion of about 3 is estimated. Including higher-order moments strongly affects the magnitude of utility function estimates.

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