What do horses, pigs, President Bush, Sen. John Kerry, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles all have in common?
No, it's not a joke. The answer, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips, is that you can legally bet on all of them in Britain.
Betting, huge on the track, has been legal off-track in Britain for decades, with betting shops that are a fixture on every shopping street. Now, they have branched out beyond wagers on the traditional races and sporting events. Basically, you can bet on anything.
"You can bet, if you want, if the queen will abdicate before the end of the next year," says Graham Sharpe of William Hill Bookmakers. "That's a 33-to-1 chance. You can bet that (Prince) Charles and Camilla (Parker Bowles) will get married before the end of next year; that's currently a 10-to-1 shot. You can bet that Prince Charles will become a father again within the next however many years you want to make it; that's a 20-to-1shot within a year and a half."
It's almost as if the demand to bet has outstripped the supply of things to bet on. And so TV has stepped in, in ways that you wouldn't have bet on.
You can bet on horses and dogs in many countries, but in Britain, you also can bet on piggies. At Yorkshire's Cruckley Farm, "Squeal of Fortune," the latest betting craze game show, is shot.
In the TV show that gives a whole new meaning to bringing home the bacon, the trick is to find a pig, stick a number on its belly and bet on which little piggy comes up.
And if betting on the porkers gets a little tiresome, there are always the rodents. In Gerbil Roulette, odds are offered on which box the little guy will go into first. Hundreds of thousands of dollars ride on the whim of a rodent.
The Gerbil and Piggy betting channel is on 24 hours a day. And none of it has hurt the traditional betting industry with its larger animals, complicated odds and eccentric bookies.
In the end, the bookmakers are selling greed – dreams of getting rich quick.
Among the contests pulling in lots of betting money these days is a horse race now almost too close to call -- the U.S. Presidential election. And you can bet on more than just the current race between Republican President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry.
"We've even got bets on the books that eventually Hillary Clinton will get the presidency, says Sharpe. "Or that Will Smith will be president, Arnold Schwartzenegger will be president - obviously that will require a change of law. "
With betting so easy here, money also pours in from abroad, including from the U.S. And that's just what the bookies are betting on.