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Polar bears face stark odds, says bookmaker Paddy Power PLC

Paddy Power PLC bets against polar bears, white Christmas.

Basing his forecast on observations of nature, Donegal postman Michael Gallagher said he believes there is a 90 percent chance that Ireland will have a white Christmas.

“The sheep and the cattle are going mad, shaking themselves, coming in off the mountains and coming to the gate,” said Gallagher who has a reputation for accurate forecasting.

“I noticed the other day, the fox is getting very busy, looking for hens and howling at two in the morning,” he told the Inishowen News. “There’s a hunger in everything, they want to be fed because they know what is coming.”

Still, Boston, Mass. at 4/6 or Chicago, Ill. at 8/11, might be a better bet for a Christmas snowfall.

Paddy Power plc will give odds on practically anything. A gambler can get 5/1 against the favorite, Cardinal Francis Arinze, becoming the next Pope, or 4/5 against Kraft taking over Cadbury’s chocolate makers by the end of the year.

Always a gambling nation, the internet has raised the betting stakes in Ireland to a new level; €3.6 billion was wagered last year on everything from a white Christmas (didn’t happen) to the name of Colin Farrell’s baby (it was Henry), an increase of €300 million on the previous year.

However Irish only need apply when it comes to online gambling. “It is an open market in Ireland, but we can’t take bets from U.S. citizens and we can’t accept U.S. credit cards because it is outlawed there,” said Power.

So, just for the record, the bookmaker is offering 11/10 that a Republican will win the next U.S. presidential election, and 5/1 that the candidate will be Sarah Palin. Paddy Power obviously expects the incumbent to get four more years as he is quoting 4/6 against a Democrat winning and 1/7 that the candidate will be Barack Obama.

A better bet might be the 14/5 he is offering against Buffalo Bills beating the New England Patriots in their football game on Dec. 22.