Gambling commission in Quebec will not allow bets on whether local becomes pope

Associated Press

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 odds-on favourite or among the top picks according to betting houses.

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

Jean-Pierre Roy says it would be unbecoming for a state-run organization to offer such betting and Loto-Quebec has no intention of doing so.

Some bookmakers have jumped into the fray since Monday's resignation announcement by Pope Benedict.

One of those, an Irish-based bookmaker called Paddy Power, has Ouellet's odds pegged at 7-2, making him their favourite to become pope.

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.

Gambling on the papacy might be considered extremely distasteful by people of faith, but it certainly is not a new practice.

Pope Gregory XIV became so irate at the practice that he issued a papal bull threatening excommunication for anyone who bet on certain Vatican affairs. That was in 1591.

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