Gambling Commission in Quebec Will Not Allow Bets on Whether Local Becomes Pope

By Banerjee, Sidhartha | The Canadian Press, February 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gambling Commission in Quebec Will Not Allow Bets on Whether Local Becomes Pope


Banerjee, Sidhartha, The Canadian Press


Lottery corp. says no to betting on papacy

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MONTREAL - All bets are off in Quebec as to whether a local becomes the next pope.

The provincial lottery commission says it will not follow the lead of some foreign gambling houses that allow people to place bets on who might inherit St. Peter's throne.

The organization isn't swayed by the fact that a fellow Quebecer, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, just so happens to be the favourite or among the top picks according to bookmakers.

While Loto-Quebec recently branched out beyond sports gambling by introducing betting on the upcoming Oscars, a spokesman said Wednesday it has no plans to get into religion.

"Loto-Quebec has no intention to offer betting on the identity of the next pope," said spokesman Jean-Pierre Roy. "I don't think that's what people would expect from a government organization."

Roy said sports gambling has been a fixture since the early 1990s. In recent weeks, the corporation has been testing the waters on betting on the Oscars and Roy says it will only know after the Feb. 24 ceremony whether it was a hit. The Atlantic Lottery Corp. was the first to announce it would offer Oscar betting this year.

"But betting on a religious event, we're not sure that would be the best way to go," Roy said.

Since Pope Benedict XVI's surprise announcement on Monday that he will step down on Feb. 28, Quebecers have weighed in on whether Ouellet could be next in line.

Ouellet, the 68-year-old native of La Motte, Que., was named a cardinal in 2003. In 2010 he was made head of the powerful Congregation for Bishops, which vets bishops nominations worldwide.

"The fact that a Quebec cardinal is in the running of course increases the (interest) and people may be asking whether we'll offer it (betting) or not," Roy said. "But we've done our thinking here and we have no intention of offering betting on such an event."

Some foreign bookmakers have jumped into the fray, however, with Irish-based Paddy Power installing him as favourite at 7-2.

A spokesman for that oddsmaker says Ouellet has been popular in the last few days among its customers, who are based in the United Kingdom and Ireland. …

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