London: The long wait for the birth of Prince William and his wife Catherine`s royal baby is big business for Britain`s bookmakers.
Punters around the world are betting on a girl called Alexandra to be born, well, any day now.
And with footballer David Beckham joking that the child should be named after him, the temptation for people to wager on every detail grows with every day the infant bides its time.
Bookies say bets on the name, sex and date of the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are drawing a record number of bets for a non-sports market, worth over 1 million pounds so far.
"It is the biggest novelty market we have ever seen," Gary Burton, from the British betting firm Coral, told a news agency yesterday.
"We did the pope, we did reality TV and this is by far the biggest we have had. It`s getting busier and busier the more it goes on and the more coverage it gets."
Coral alone had taken more than 500,000 pounds in bets on the royal baby, he added.
Bookmaker William Hill said it had taken 100,000 pounds from punters in 100 countries.
Bets include a huge 1,000 pound bet from a punter in Austria on a male baby in the last week.
That is at odds with most people, who believe it will be a girl following a slip of the tongue by Kate earlier this year when she appeared to start the word "daughter" when talking about the baby before cutting herself short.
One punter placed 5,000 pounds on a baby girl with Coral at the weekend.
Meanwhile the refusal of Buckingham Palace to name the due date beyond saying that it would be in July -- later reports suggested the middle of the month or specifically the 13th -- has led to a flurry of speculation.
"Every day that passes we presume tomorrow must be the day that it will arrive," said Joe Crilly, a spokesman for William Hill.
"That is also driving people to have another wager."
But while betting on the day constantly changes, favourites for the royal baby`s name have remained broadly similar for weeks.
Coral last week suspended betting on the name after a string of bets were placed on the favourite, Alexandra, in the space of a couple of hours -- all in central London where the royal family are based. It is now taking bets again.
Alexandra has topped the odds for weeks with most bookmakers offering around 6/4.