How Much Prison Time Will Sam Bankman-Fried Get? Degens Are Placing Their Bets

On Thursday, Sam Bankman-Fried and his family will finally hear the words they’ve been anticipating for months now: the decision of a Manhattan judge, as to how many years the disgraced FTX founder will spend in prison for his October conviction on seven criminal fraud and conspiracy charges. 

Also nervously awaiting the ruling: scores of degens who have gambled hundreds of thousands of dollars on the length of Bankman-Fried’s sentence.

On crypto gambling site Polymarket, users have already collectively bet some $657,000—and counting—on the outcome. Betting options include ranges like less than 5 years, 5-to-10 years, 10-to-20 years, 20-to-30 years, and so on—up to 50 years or more. 

So what does the point spread have to say about Bankman-Fried’s fate? Overwhelmingly—if the bookies are to be trusted—the former billionaire’s outlook looks bleak.

The sentencing ranges currently showing highest probability of paying out are 20-to-30 years, 30-to-40 years, and 40-to-50 years; those options are trading at 26%, 27%, and 27% likelihood of paying out, respectively. 

The odds that U.S. federal judge Lewis Kaplan heeds the pleas of Bankman-Fried’s attorneys and hands the convicted felon a gentler six-and-a-half year prison sentence are in contrast incredibly low, according to online gamblers. Betting activity has placed the odds that Bankman-Fried gets less than five years of prison time at 1%; a bet he gets a 5-to-10 year stint in the can looks only marginally more optimistic, at 4% odds. 

Federal prosecutors recommended earlier this month that Bankman-Fried face 40-to-50 years in prison; degens appear to like that number. Odds that Judge Kaplan tacks harsher than prosecutors and hands down a sentence in excess of 50 years are understandably lower, at 8%.

Though odds thus appear low that FTX’s disgraced founder will get an extremely lenient or harsh sentence, that’s where most of the money’s been bet: on wagers that are fairly likely to not come true, but still offer meager profit margins.

Over $200,000 has been bet, for instance, that Bankman-Fried will not receive a sentence of 5-to-10 years, or not receive a sentence of over 50 years. The former bet would yield a profit margin of only 2.5%; the latter, 7.5%. Not much, but apparently easy money in the minds of those who’ve made such wagers. 

Contrast that with a bet—not so insane to fathom—that Bankman-Fried will get a sentence between 10 and 20 years come Thursday. Putting $1,000 on the proposition would gain a gambler some $7,285 if it paid out.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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