Monday September 16,2013 : CULTURAL BETTING ON THE RISE – ESPECIALLY ONLINE
 
Online punters are showing growing interest in betting on major music and book award events.
 
Perhaps it's the accessibility and ease of having a flutter online that is responsible, but UK bookies are reporting rising public interest in placing a wager on the possible winners of major cultural events such as the Mercury music awards or the Man Booker literary accolade.
 
In a feature article over the weekend in The Guardian newspaper, author Andrew Martin examined the phenomenon, speaking to leading bookies like William Hill and Ladbrokes.
 
Ladbrokes said the rise in cultural betting had been noted, and was worth around GBP 3 million a year to Ladbrokes, with spokesman Alex Donohue saying:
 
"This kind of betting has been around for a while, but it's burgeoning, and stakes are rising."
 
Donahue gave as examples the Man Booker, where Ladbrokes has taken bets worth GBP 15,000 already this year – a substantial rise on the GBP 4,000 wagered back in 2005.
 
He said that betting on the Nobel prize for literature is currently approaching GBP 20,000, although Ladbrokes do not currently take bets on who will get the Nobel Peace Prize.
 
Other special events worthy of a wager include reality shows like The X Factor and who the next 007 will be
 
Approached for comment by Martin, William Hill plc's media projects director Graham Sharpe claimed that his company has pioneered this genre of betting.
 
"We call it our culture file,” said Sharpe. "My idea was always that we should broaden the range of things that people can bet on. I mean, every man has his price.
 
“We've taken bets on the Booker since the start of the prize. We're the official bookmakers for the Mercury. We've been taking bets on the World Chess Championship since the days of Fischer-Spassky … the Turner prize, the RIBA Stirling prize for architecture …."
 
Martin gave a few odds as an example:
 
Bookies are offering 9-2 on David Bowie winning this year's Mercury music prize; whilst Eleanor Catton is at 4-1 to take home the Man Booker prize with her 823-page novel, The Luminaries.
 
Catton is running second to Jim Crace and his latest book Harvest, who is on 5-2. And EL James, author of the rather racy 50 Shades of Grey, is at 500-1 to win the Nobel prize for literature.
 
Martin references Paddy Power as a bookie with a reputation for taking bets on a wide range of special events and comments on the company's use of high profile characters like Dennis Rodman to boost publicity in a North Korean adventure and taking a punt on events such as the recent Papal elections.