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Your Soon-To-Be-Born Baby Is The Latest Internet Betting Craze

An old tradition steps into the 21st century

Mar 17, 2016 at 5:02 PM ET

Guessing a baby’s gender, date of birth and other stats is a grand tradition long associated with baby-having. Baby pools have long been a cornerstone of baby showers. But now, thanks to endearingly named sites like BabyBookie.com and BellyBets.com, expectant parents and their friends are now taking bets in online pools.

There are quite a few baby guessing sites, including, in addition to the ones mentioned above BabyHunch, WhatsInMyBelly.com, ExpectNet.com, and so on. These sites are pretty straightforward: You wage your bets on all of the usual variables involved with giving birth (sex, date, weight, height, etc.). You are not, for the record, betting on weird outlier possibilities, like whether or not the baby will be one of about every 2,000 to 3,000 babies born with natal teeth.

Baby Bookie, in particular, is the brainchild of Pointless Corp, the development arm of the digital agency Vigit. The name might suggest an underground baby betting ring, but Baby Bookie doesn’t actually allow for monetary bets. The betting is just for the hell of it, and the main point is to make it easy to go back and see who guessed right (or wrong). Pointless Corp. mostly created the site for fun in 2012, but Baby Bookie has taken on a life of its own, growing considerably in the past year. Vigit’s communications director Ben Travis told me it saw just over 30,000 visits in January and February of this year, as opposed to 5,000 a month in 2013. It hasn’t done much in the way of promoting it either; people have naturally gravitated towards the service, which is a testament to the growing trend.

“People have been doing this for a long time, just on paper,” says Ben Ecerkson, Baby Bookie’s digital strategist. Eckerson and his wife have two kids and have of course, held pools on Baby Bookie. “I was always the guy who runs office guessing games. This year is no different. I’m running the March Madness pool. It’s a fun thing like that. It’s fun to see where the predictions come out and who’s thinking what. Nowadays there’s a resurrection of people not finding out the sex [of a baby]. Seeing what your friends are predicting online is more fun than ever, versus the days of having to put guesses on poster board and that sort of thing.”

Recently, Andrew and Meghan Boyett, friends of mine, sent out an email asking friends and family to place their bets using BabyBookie. I asked why they decided to do an online pool and the appeal for them boils down to the added features that come with letting a computer do the heavy lifting.

“I think the fun thing about the online pools is that you can check back on other people’s guesses, see the breakdown of guesses, and find out how you did after the baby stats are confirmed,” Meghan explains. “The pen and paper ones at baby showers almost never get followed up on; you usually can’t even remember how you guessed.”

 

Also, father-of-two-to-be Andrew told me, it’s a good way to get dads interested.

“It gets the guys involved when most of them would otherwise pretend they’re too cool to talk about babies,” he says. “You can’t entirely blame them for the aversion–the entire pre-birth process is so heavily focused on the ladies. Sure, they’re doing all the work, but they’re also having all the fun. They have showers, and sprinkles, and presumably other stuff I don’t even know about. I will do almost anything to avoid going to a baby shower, but I do like to place a friendly wager when it comes to the future of someone’s life.”

People are already going to offer their unsolicited opinions on a half-cooked baby, so why not make it fun? This year alone, it’s possible you’ve placed bets on things like the Oscars, the Super Bowl, and this week, a March Madness bracket. Why stop there? Why not bet on everything?  Throw a baby into the mix.