France's Sarkozy attracts big bets ahead of vote

PARIS (Reuters) - A Greek man wagered 18,900 pounds ($37,660) on French conservative Nicolas Sarkozy winning Sunday’s presidential election as bets poured in ahead of the vote, British bookmaker William Hill said on Friday.

The bookmaker is now offering odds of 1/9 on Sarkozy and 5/1 on Socialist rival Segolene Royal.

Because of strict French gambling laws, most of the betting has been through British or Irish bookmakers, who have reported heavy interest from online clients in continental Europe.

“We’ve been really surprised by the interest in this election,” William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said.

The bookmaker said the Greek Internet bet was the largest it had seen so far, as more than 250,000 euros ($340,200) was put on the race between Sarkozy and Royal.

Sarkozy has led in every opinion poll since the start of the year and the latest surveys give him a lead of between 6 and 9 points.