December 3, 2008 / 2:54 PM / 10 years ago

British bookies slash odds on a white Christmas

The London Eye is seen as snow falls in London, April 6, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British bookmakers are cutting the odds of a white Christmas as temperatures across the country plunge, with bets even being taken that Big Ben will freeze solid and fail to chime.

William Hill are offering 4/1 that snow will fall on London on Christmas Day, with Ladbrokes quoting 5/2.

Hills are also offering 20/1 that the lowest temperature ever recorded in England, minus 26.1 degrees Centigrade, will be beaten this winter, and 100/1 that the river Thames will freeze over between Westminster and Tower bridge.

A Ladbroke’s spokesman said: “We could easily end up offering our shortest ever price about a White Christmas.”

Bookies are predicting the industry’s liability could be as big as 1 million pounds ($1.47 million).

Britain’s weather-predicting MET office said it is too early to tell whether there will be snow on Christmas day, but expects December will be colder than normal.

The last white Christmas was in 2004, when there was widespread snow across much of Britain.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)

$1=.6786 Pound

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