Nigerian, Ghanaian, Canadian cardinals favourites to become Benedict XVI's successors
Washington, Feb. 12 : British and Irish bookmakers have ranked Nigeria's Cardinal Francis Arinze, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Canada's Marc Ouellet as favorites to lead the Roman Catholic Church, after Pope Benedict XVI's shocking resignation.
William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker, offered odds of 3/1 against for Arinze, or a probability of 25 percent, while Ouellet and Turkson were priced at 7/2 against, meaning successful punters would win seven pounds for every two staked, the New York Daily News reports.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is one of the main contenders to become the next pope, according to bookmakers, which would make him the first black pope ever.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power had the same three cardinals as leading contenders but placed Ouellet as favorite ahead of the two Africans. Britain's Ladbrokes narrowly made Turkson its initial frontrunner, the report said.
William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe, denying that gambling on the papal succession was blasphemous, said that he has been taking bets on the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury for as long as he could remember, the report said.
According to the report, bets are on Marc Ouellet of Canada to replace the retiring pope.
Sharpe said that Arinze and Benedict, who was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, were both among the bookmakers' favourites in 2005 when the German was elected to succeed Pope John Paul II, it added.