Thursday, February 28, 2013

Papal Gamble

Somehow, gambling for the clothes of Jesus makes the bad thief look good.
The ancient tradition of gambling during a vacancy of Church leadership is alive and well! USA Today has this story about the oddsmakers (bookies) opening up pools on betting on who the next pope will be.

Irish book maker "Paddy Power" ( No, really, that's the name) offers betting on who the next pope will be, his age, his nation of origin, what his Pope name will be and other things that people think they can bet on. There's even a favorite:

Cardinal Turkson is the favorite so far
Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana is the favorite with odds of 11-4.
"He is screeching ahead at the moment," Scott says. "But there is a saying, 'He that enters the conclave as pope leaves as cardinal.' "
Next in line:
  • 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
  • Cardinal Leonardo Sandri from Argentina with odds of 12-1
Bad news for Cardinal Hummes of Brazil: His 50-1 odds have drawn nine fewer bets than Father Dougal Maguire — the fictional priest from Father Ted, an Irish sitcom.
The next papal name is the most popular alternative market, and the name Peter is the front-runner.
All of the betting fun – legally – has to take place abroad.
"It's not legal in the United States," says American Gaming Association spokeswoman Holly Wetzel. "Sports books in Nevada are not taking bets on the pope — some cite the illegality of taking bets on elections, some say it's a matter of 'taste.' "
It is also illegal for people within the United States to place bets with foreign Internet bookmakers, Wetzel says.
 As I said, gambling on popes isn't a new thing. The article states:
"There is a long history of betting on the pope," says James Martin, a Jesuit priest in New York and editor at America, the national Catholic magazine. "Unofficial betting has probably been going on since as long as there were conclaves."
Martin says that often the bookmaker's top candidates are in line with candidates mentioned by top Vaticanologists.
However, in 2005, Joseph Ratzinger's odds were 20-1, ranking him outside of the top 10, as he headed into the conclave from which he emerged as Pope Benedict.
"I check Paddy Power every day just to see who is up and who is down," Martin says. "But the Holy Spirit is not checking Paddy Power and it is up to the Holy Spirit – not the odds on Paddy Power."