Olympic Games opening sparks betting flurry on filmmaker Boyle

Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:55am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Bookmakers expect record gambling 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.

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 pounds ($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," William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said.

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.   Continued...

Danny Boyle, director of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, speaks before the start of the ceremony at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach