(LAS VEGAS KXNT)–You can’t do it in Las Vegas–in fact, sports books are forbidden to even talk about it, let alone make odds or take your bet–but there is already vigorous wagering in anticipation of the next Pope of the Roman Catholic church.
A European bookmaker, Paddy Power, says it took more than a hundred thousand Euros in one day. Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet the current favorite. at 7-2. At 4-1 is a Nigerian Cardinal, Francis Arinze, who was a favorite in 2005 when Pope Benedict was ultimately selected by the Vatican as Pope.
Pope Benedict says he will step aside at the end of February. Cardinals will convene an conclave in March to select a new leader for the church. Its the first time in 600 years a pontiff is retiring rather than serve until death.
Paddy Power also lists several novelty, unlikely longshots as candidates–including U2′s Bono–at 1,000 to 1.
In a conversation with KXNT’s Brian Shpairo, Kate Miller of William Hill UK says her firm is shying away from taking longshot bets in an attempt to be respectful to the process. Her firm adds Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson as a front-running favorite to be the next Pope.
As for a longer list of potential Popes:
Top row from left : Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodrigues Maradiaga, Argentine Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Brazilian Joao Braz de Aviz, Philippines’ Luis Antonio Tagle, and Nigerian Peter Turkson. Bottom row from left : Austrian Cristoph Schonborn, Hungarian Peter Erdoe, Italian Angelo Scola, Canadian Marc Ouellet, Nigerian Francis Arinze, Nigerian John Onaiyekan, and USA’s Timothy Dolan. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read DESK/AFP/Getty Images)