Nobody knows for sure who will replace Pope Benedict XVI, who officially resigned from the papacy (and Twitter) on Thursday afternoon. But a lack of knowledge has never stopped people from gambling on uncertain outcomes — remember InTrade, when it was still legal in the U.S.? — and thousands of people are placing bets, with real money, on potential candidates for the 267th leader of the Catholic Church. But how much? Worldwide numbers are difficult to come by, since so many bets take place offline, typically among friends and co-workers (and priests, probably). But one website based in Ireland, where gambling on elections is 100 percent legal, predicts that it will book at least $7 million dollars in bets on the next Pope.
A spokesman for Paddy Power, which appears to be the InTrade of Ireland, told a Gannett reporter on Thursday that "we are expecting this pope betting to be the biggest round of non-sporting betting in Patty Power history" and that betting ought to intensify when the process for choosing the Benedict XVI's successor begins — possibly as soon as next week. Bettors may place money on individual candidates and on attributes like their age or nationality. "Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana is the favorite with odds of 11/4" among Paddy Power users, according to Gannett. Here are the runners-up:
- Archbishop Angelo Scola from Italy with odds of 3/1
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada with odds of 6/1
- Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from Italy with odds of 6/1
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco from Italy with odds of 8/1