Is it poor taste or a harsh statement against the most recent oil spill to devastate the Gulf Coast? Paddy Power, an Irish online gambling site, is taking bets on which species will become extinct as a result of the British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

The site lists a number of animals (Kemp's Ridley turtle, bluefin tuna, brown pelican, etc.) that were already stressed, putting the U.S. among the top 20 countries with the most endangered species. The site gives the odds that each animal will meet its demise and betters can cash in on the aftermath. For instance, Paddy lists the Ridley turtle as having 4/5 odds of dying because the animal is "already critically endangered" and, according to Paddy's press release, "In what must be considered spectacularly bad luck, this particular species of turtle migrates to the Gulf of Mexico at this exact time of year."

To explain the motives behind the betting pool, the site says, "We hope this betting will highlight the environmental catastrophe unfolding right now as a result of the BP oil spill. It’s a sure bet we’ll lose some marine species, the only question is which ones.” They do not mention what will become of the proceeds from the species betting.

Wall Street Journal blogger Quentin Fottrell finds the gimmick to be in poor taste, but quotes Paddy refuting this claim, saying, "The oil spill seems to be going from bad to worse with no end in sight ... Hopefully our odds will bring home the imminent danger to such a varied mix of species dependent on the ocean.”

Citing an earlier response to the idea of betting on non-sport, newsworthy events, Online Casino Reports quotes Paddy Power as saying, "People should be allowed to back up their opinion with some cash."

Paddy Power is also running a pool to determine who will become the next CEO of BP.

Also on MNN:

Irish firm gambles on extinction
Online betting site calculates the odds of several species' demise due to Gulf oil spill.