A surge in bets has forced Britain’s biggest bookmakers, William Hill Plc and Ladbrokes Plc, to suspend betting on the odds of Greece dropping out, according to recent articles of the French newspaper Le Monde and international news agency Reuters. It’s not Britain’s sympathy and solidarity that led to that decision, but probably their certainty that Greece will exit the Eurozone, thus making certain bets unnecessary.
The failure of Greece’s leaders to form a government has renewed speculation that Greece could be forced out of the single currency. William Hill said the level of betting on Greece quitting first was so vast that it had become too risky to continue taking bets, with the odds pushed right down to 1/4.
“We’ve had Greece as hot favorites for some time, but increasingly it was becoming the only one that people wanted to bet on,” said a spokesman for William Hill, Britain’s largest betting firm. “It wasn’t a healthy situation for bookmakers. We found it was virtually impossible to make a book.”
Britain’s second-biggest betting firm, Ladbrokes, said it had suspended betting on Greece dropping out of the Eurozone by the end of the year, after repeatedly slashing the odds.
“It is safer for us to suspend betting than to keep cutting the odds,” a spokesman for Ladbrokes said. “We have been slashing the odds repeatedly over the last few days.”
Ladbrokes also stopped taking bets on the Greek stock market losing more than 25 percent of its value in a single day’s trading by the end of 2012. Ladbrokes was offering odds on the euro ceasing to exist by the end of 2012, which could make punters 33 times their original stake, but according to Le Monde, bets were paused as of May 10.
Ladbrokes is offering odds of 5/6 that the euro will cease to exist by the end of 2015 and 4/1 on two or more states to leave the euro by the end of the year.
William Hill, however, has closed betting on the euro still being in existence by the end of 2015 – a possibility it sees as closely linked to what is happening in Greece – with the latest odds before suspension at 4/6 in favor and 11/10 against.
Once the situation in Greece becomes less volatile, the bookmakers say they will see to reopen the market.