London: Bookies cashed in big as thousands of Britons placed bets on what Prince William and his wife, Kate, would name their newborn child.
Ladbrokes took 50,000 bets in the hours after the Duchess of Cambridge went into labor on Monday morning. Company spokesman Alex Donohue said the public rushed to put small amounts of money, such as a pound, on the royal infant`s name because they "want to be involved".
"Never underestimate the British public`s obsession with the royal family," he said.
"This is such a big story. And besides, it`s summer. The weather is good."
For much of the day, the money was on Alexandra for a girl and James or George for a boy. Late yesterday, it was announced that Kate had delivered a son, though there was no word on the name.
Betting agency Coral described it as the biggest non-sporting betting event in the company`s history, with gamblers racing to wager on everything about the new heir to the throne.
"The whole world has been waiting for Kate to go into labor and now that she has, we have witnessed another betting frenzy," said Nicola McGeady, spokeswoman for the firm, in the hours before the birth was announced.
The betting went well beyond the name.
Paddy Power took bets on the colour that Kate`s sister, Pippa Middleton, will wear when she comes to visit.
Ladbrokes had odds of 33-to-1 that the new heir, who would be third in line for the throne, would represent Great Britain at the Olympics. It`s not that far-fetched equestrian athlete Zara Phillips, the queen`s granddaughter, won silver at the 2012 London Olympics.
The public may have to wait, though, to cash in their betting slips. It is not uncommon for royals to take their time naming babies: Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip waited for a month in the case of Prince Charles.