Royal Wedding fever at the bookies

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By Jessica McBride, M.M. – International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors

On April 29, 2011 Prince William, heir to the British throne, married his commoner fiancée at Westminster Abbey in London.

Not surprisingly, millions of royal watchers anticipated this event. What was surprising was an unlikely group of people who also anticipated this event – gamblers.

Legal bookmakers, including Britain’s leading bookmaker, William Hill and Ireland’s biggest bookmaker, Paddy Power, both posted odds on various events related to the Royal Wedding.

Betting fever began as soon as the engagement was announced, as bookies offered bets on the date as well as the venue for the big day. Other early bets included the best man and the maid of honour.

By the week before the wedding, vast sums had been wagered by almost 5,000 people worldwide.

According to William Hill spokesperson Rupert Adams, at least one bet was received from over 100 countries. Betting fever was so high William Hill renamed itself William and Kate prior to the wedding.

Bookmakers in Britain expected to generate as much as £1 million (over AUS$1.5 million) during the Royal Wedding across the whole betting industry.

Paddy Power offered thirty-four Royal Wedding betting opportunities.

Gamblers could bet on the colour of the Queen’s hat, the best-selling souvenir, the weather and whether Kate would leave William at the altar.

Royal Wedding specials offered by bookmakers included whether the couple would still be married by their tenth wedding anniversary, what song would accompany their first dance, the year their first child would be born, and the colour and designer of Kate’s dress.

The bets offered were drawing individuals who otherwise did not gamble. According to Casino Reports online, these special bets were attracting many women to place a wager, often for the first time.

Women who would not typically place bets on sports events with a bookie nonetheless were attracted to betting on the Royal Wedding. One woman was reported to have wagered £6,000 (almost AUS$9,500) that Kate would wear the tiara worn by the Queen at her own wedding (she did not).

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