LONDON — Bookies cashed in big Monday as thousands of Britons placed bets on the name of the child that will be born to Prince William and his wife, Kate.
Ladbrokes took 50,000 bets in the hours after the Duchess of Cambridge went into labor Monday morning. Company spokesman Alex Donohue said the public has rushed to put small amounts of money — such as a pound — on the soon-to-be-born-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."
So far, the money is on Alexandra for a girl and James or George for a boy.
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.
"Punters (bettors) have been anxiously clutching onto their betting slips for months now and if the money talks, the baby will be called Alexandra, with brown hair, weighing 7 pounds to 7 pounds, 15 ounces, an outcome which will prove a nightmare result for the bookies" — because of the amount of money they will have to pay out.
But that's not all the public is betting on. Paddy Power took bets on the color 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.