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Irish bookmaker pays out on Yes to Lisbon Treaty

DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Irish bookmaker is already paying out on a “Yes” vote in next month’s plebiscite on the European Union’s reform treaty.

A demonstrator holds a board during a protest in Dublin outside a government building in Dublin, in this July 21, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

“With odds at 1/12 a positive outcome looks like a foregone conclusion at this stage although we do expect it to be tight,” said Leon Blanche, a spokesman for Boylesports.

“With many crucial groups in the country such as farmers and business leaders supporting the treaty we believe that this result is now inevitable,” he said.

Boylesports’ conviction comes on the heels of opinion polls showing a majority of voters in favour of the treaty, which is intended to speed up decision-making in the 27-member union.

But rival bookmaker Paddy Power was left out of pocket last year when it paid out early on a Yes vote when polls closed only for the result to be a No.

A spokesman for Paddy Power said it expected a Yes vote but would not be paying out before polling starts on October 2.

“It’s such an important treaty. We don’t want to give people a reason not to go and vote,” said Paddy Power, adding that one punter on Tuesday put 32,000 euros on the treaty being ratified.

“We fully expect to be lining the pockets of all the Yes men next week.”

Brussels needs Ireland to pass the charter in order for it to take effect and give it a stronger voice in world affairs.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen is hoping fears of economic isolation in the event of a second No and concessions wrung from Brussels in key areas will swing a thumbs up.

Officials, however, remain worried that widespread anger over the government’s handling of the economy could translate into a large protest vote next month.

Reporting by Carmel Crimmins