Crypto Predictions Site Polymarket Taking Bets on Whether Russia Will Use a Nuclear Weapon by 2023

Traders on Polymarket, which is not available to U.S. users, are putting a 6% probability of Russia doing so.

AccessTimeIconOct 19, 2022 at 9:32 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:00 a.m. UTC
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Cryptocurrency predictions site Polymarket is accepting bets now on “Will Russia use a nuclear weapon before 2023?” following an escalation in tensions between Russia and Ukraine and increased calls by Russian authorities to utilize such weapons.

Polymarket is not available to U.S.-based traders. Earlier this year, the site was fined $1.4 million and ordered to cease offering noncompliant markets by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for not registering with it. Polymarket then limited access to only non-U.S. users.

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  • The current odds being offered on "Yes" on the nuclear weapon question are about 17 to 1, meaning you'd win $17 for every $1 you bet. On the other hand, betting correctly on "No" would win you $1.06 for every $1 you bet.

    More simply put, the market is putting a 6% probability on Russia using a nuke this year.

    According to the bet's page, a prediction market on Russia's use of nuclear weapons “has been requested many times recently by esteemed academics and thought leaders from across the world, and it is strongly within the public's interest to have accurate price discovery and realtime forecasts on such a topic.”

    Polymarket wrote that it considered the prediction market on this topic “a public good, in order to provide clarity to society on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.”

    Polymarket detailed that “this market will resolve to ‘Yes’ if the Russian Federation detonates a nuclear device in an offensive capacity by Dec. 31, 2022, 11:59:59 p.m. ET. Otherwise, this market will resolve to ‘No.’” It added that to meet the “Yes” criteria, the detonation of a nuclear device must be in an offensive capacity, must not be a test and must either be claimed by the Russian Federation or widely accepted to be from the Russian Federation.

    UPDATE (23:20 UTC): Clarifies passage about CFTC order, adds detail about probability.

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    Nelson Wang

    Nelson Wang was CoinDesk's news editor for the East Coast. He holds BTC and ETH above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.


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