The Straits Times
Published on Feb 12, 2013

Bookmakers see three-cardinal race to be next Pope


LONDON (REUTERS) - British and Irish bookmakers ranked Nigeria's Cardinal Francis Arinze, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana and Canadian Marc Ouellet on Monday as favourites to lead the Roman Catholic Church, setting odds swiftly after Pope Benedict XVI's shock resignation.

Mr William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker, offered odds of 3/1 for Cardinal Arinze, or a probability of 25 per cent, while Cardinal Ouellet and Cardinal Turkson were priced at 7/2 against, meaning successful punters would win seven pounds for every two staked.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power had the same three cardinals as leading contenders but placed Cardinal Ouellet as favourite ahead of the two Africans. Britain's Ladbrokes narrowly made Cardinal Turkson its initial frontrunner.

"I have been taking bets on the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury for as long as I care to remember," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe, denying that gambling on the papal succession was blasphemous.