British election result a close bet: bookmakers

5th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Conservatives will comfortably win the most seats in Britain's general election but whether they can get a majority is too close to call, bookmakers said Wednesday.

Just hours before the polls open, bookmakers said the close nature of this year's general election had sparked a surge in interest from British voters taking a punt on the outcome of Thursday's vote.

And where folks are prepared to risk their money has always been a handy indicator of how things are shaping up.

"If money talks then what we have seen in the last few days tells us the Conservatives are going to win the election," said bookmaker Paddy Power.

"The only question remaining is whether they secure enough seats for the all important majority -- and the betting is starting to suggest they can."

William Hill make the main opposition Conservatives a runaway 1/12 to win the most seats, with the governing Labour Party at 6/1 and the Liberal Democrats 20/1.

However, the Conservatives are 5/6 to win an overall majority, Labour 20/1 and the Lib Dems 40/1 -- with a hung parliament also 5/6.

A similar picture of a neck-and-neck contest for a Tory majority is painted at other bookmakers.

Ladbrokes make the Conservatives 1/16 to win the most seats; Labour 7/1 and the Lib Dems 40/1.

For an overall majority, the Conservatives are 21/20, Labour 25/1, the Liberals 50/1, with a hung parliament 8/11.

Paddy Power has already paid out on the Conservatives winning the most seats after the price went to 1/16. However, they reckon a hung parliament is 4/5 and a Conservative majority is evens.

In the event of a hung parliament, the Lib Dems are odds on at 1/3 to go with their centre-left tendencies and align with Labour, according to William Hill. They are 9/4 to team up with the Conservatives.

The bookmaker puts Conservative leader Cameron at 1/5 to be premier on June 1; Labour PM Gordon Brown is 11/4, while Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is 7/1.

William Hill are offering 4/6 on Brown quitting as Labour leader before Saturday, and 11/10 to stay on.

"Somebody has a 10-pound bet at 250/1 that as soon as the election was over, Brown would not only resign but announce he was getting divorced," Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe told AFP.

© 2010 AFP

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