Irish bookmaker gives slim odds to Harrisburg’s Amazon bid

Whatever the bookies say, region faces 237 competitors

Roger DuPuis//October 24, 2017

Irish bookmaker gives slim odds to Harrisburg’s Amazon bid

Whatever the bookies say, region faces 237 competitors

Roger DuPuis//October 24, 2017

According to one Irish bookmaker, the midstate doesn’t even make the cut.

In Ireland, where betting on sports — and lots of other things — is perfectly legal, online bookmaker Paddy Power is taking wagers on where Amazon will choose to locate its much sought-after “HQ2.”

The bad news: Harrisburg isn’t on the list of 22 options for gamblers to choose. Atlanta leads the pack, at 2-1 odds, while Philadelphia is handicapped in third place at 7-1 behind Austin, Texas. Pittsburgh is ranked 14-1, behind contenders such as Boston (8-1), Toronto (9-1) and Rochester, N.Y. (10-1).

Also bad news, if you’re the betting type: U.S. residents are prohibited from placing wagers with the service.

For Harrisburg, there may be some good news in this: Paddy Power has been wrong before. Very wrong.

The company allowed wagers on last year’s U.S. presidential election, and was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win that it paid out early, to the tune of nearly $1 million. In the end, that error cost the company nearly $5 million.

Whether or not the Irish bookies get it right, the Harrisburg area’s bid for the hotly contested corporate campus is up against a long list of competitors, if not strictly long odds.

Officials with the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp. (CREDC) sent a 140-page proposal to Amazon to bring HQ2 to the former Harrisburg State Hospital site off Cameron Street, which straddles Harrisburg and Susquehanna Township.

Amazon received 238 submissions for the project, according to its blog, from 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America. All, like Harrisburg, are vying for the chance to snag $5 billion in investment and 50,000 new jobs.

Except, of course, Amazon also has made it clear that it will be seeking substantial financial incentives in order to bestow that privilege on some lucky town.

Some aspirants, such as New Jersey, say they’re ready to roll out the red carpet on a grand scale. Garden State Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Newark’s bid, and New Jersey officials proposed a tax credit plan worth $7 billion.

What is Pennsylvania prepared to offer? So far, no one is prepared to say, PennLive reports.

That list of 238 applicants includes several from Pennsylvania. In addition to Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, applications reportedly came in from Northeast Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley, Delaware County and even Bensalem Township in the Philly burbs.

Harrisburg’s chances were even the subject of Tuesday morning’s “Smart Talk” discussion on WITF radio, whose website also attracted a lively selection of comments.

In the meanwhile, however, there seems to be little to do but wait. Amazon has said it expects to make a final decision in 2018.