Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I admit I once spent my birthday in the Race and Sports Book at the Hotel Bellagio in Las Vegas.

There's something mesmerizing about watching horses race each other, all over the country, on vast screens as one sits in semi-darkness.

This may be why I'm fascinated by the 200-horse race to be the city of Amazon's second headquarters.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the betting being conducted on the site of Irish bookie Paddy Power.

At the time, there were two cities that seemed to be vying for the Amazon HQ2 title: Austin and Atlanta.

Each was priced at 2-1. This means the so-called smart money couldn't decide how smart it really was. But it was sure it was smart.

Today, I returned to the Paddy Power site, wondering if anything had changed.

It has, and how.

There's now a clear favorite. Oddly, despite Bezos being a Texan at heart, it isn't Austin.

It's Atlanta.

The home of Hawks and blown Super Bowls is now the 3-1 favorite.

Remarkably, Austin has drifted to 7-1. And it's not alone there. Boston and Toronto (yes, the one in Canada) have surged up on the rails to join it.

Naturally, one can speculate about the information to which the bettors may (or may not) be privileged.

This information might, of course, still be speculation. Amazon is really quite good at keeping secrets. 

However, these four cities are now far ahead in the betting. After the three 7-1 shots, the next is Portland (the one in Oregon) at 14-1, along with New York City, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. 

Of course, favorites have lost before. It may be that a surprise city will emerge and sweep Amazon off its feet.

Then again, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is well-known for his commitment to data. I fear, therefore, that he's had a very good idea of where he'd like to open HQ2 for some time.

Still, Amazon insists that it won't make an announcement until next year.

Which leaves plenty of time for the smart money to get even smarter. 

I will continue to monitor the horses for signs of fatigue. Or, of course, doping.

Published on: Nov 15, 2017