A better bet

Olympic bell

Bookmakers expected record gambling numbers on the 2012 Olympics after the opening ceremony prompted a flood of bets on event mastermind Danny Boyle receiving a knighthood and confusion over wagers laid on who would light the Olympic flame.

Ever since London won the Olympics in 2005 gamblers have forked out on the closely guarded secret of who would light the flame, with British five-times gold medalist, rower Steve Redgrave, the clear favorite. But in the end, seven young athletes selected by seven British Olympians lit the flame in unison, causing divides in the bookmaking ranks over how to handle the bet. Ladbrokes and Stan James decided to pay out on all seven of the British Olympians involved which included Redgrave, Daley Thompson and Kelly Holmes.

William Hill voided all bets and refunded about 50,000 ($80,000) wagered on the event since 2005. "It is a bit disappointing as we've been taking bets on this for years and in the end there is no winner. There is no way anyone could have predicted any one or all of the seven people chosen," saidWilliam Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe. Stan James said it had voided all losing bets, meaning punters got their money refunded.

"It's a once in a lifetime occasion and we thought it appropriate to make this gesture after such an incredible start to the London Olympics," spokesman Rory Jiwani said. Bookmakers said the success of the opening ceremony devised by Boyle, who won an Oscar for his movie Slumdog Millionaire, had ignited a feelgood factor and already boosted gambling interest in the Olympics and not just in the sports.


Boyle, 55, is being tipped to be awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours List by Queen Elizabeth. He somehow managed to persuade Her Majesty to take part in her first-ever movie role.

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