Olympic gamblers pick Germany 

While you can wager on almost anything in Las Vegas, amateur sports is no longer one of them.

Back in 2000 the State of Nevada had to make a difficult decision. If they allowed gambling on amateur sporting events, college sports teams would lose their charters, but if they disallowed gambling on amateur events they would then lose the right to take wagers on the Olympics and other popular amateur sports events like the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament.

The state chose to disallow gambling on amateur sport - although the "amateur" status of the Olympic Games is highly questionable given the fact that professional athletes are now allowed to compete in sports like basketball, hockey and tennis. As well, some "amateur" athletes are making millions of dollars on the World Cup tour in various sports.

Vegas had issues with Olympic gambling at previous Games. For example, the decision by U.S. and Russian teams to boycott the Games in 1980 and 1984 caused huge headaches for oddsmakers, while controversies over judged events from gymnastics to diving are a regular occurrence. Then there are the lopsided victories. In 1996 you had to wager up to $75 on the U.S. basketball Dream Team just to win $1.

But while Vegas is no longer allowing gambling on the Olympics, British gambling houses - where you can bet on almost anything - are still in the Game.

SkyBet, one of the largest sports betting outfits, allows people to bet on several events at the Olympics as well as place wagers on "Specials" - which countries will win the most medals, how many gold medals Canada will win, how many medals U.S. racer Lindsey Vonn will take home, and so on.

In the overall medal table Germany is favoured to win the most medals by a 6/4 margin. In other words you have to bet $4 to earn $6.

Canada is second on the list with 9/4 odds, followed by the U.S. at 11/2, Norway at 8/1, Austria at 9/1 and Russia at 10/1.

Canada's gold medal performance is also a 50-50 bet. Sky Bet will pay 4/5 odds if Canada wins under 9.5 medals and 10/11 if they win over 9.5.

Canadian athletes are favoured in some events.

The Canadian women are 13/8 favourites to win the curling gold medal this year while the men's rink are the 10/11 favourites.

Scott Moir and partner Tessa Virtue are 2/1 favourites to win the ice dancing gold medal.

In hockey, you can bet on all the match-ups individually, right up to the gold medal game. Canada is 11/10 favourites to win gold in the men's tournament this year, with Russia second at 13/5. The defending Olympic champion Swedish team was given 5/1 odds of repeating.

The Canadian women are also favoured to win the hockey gold medal with 8/15 odds, despite the fact that the U.S. has dominated in recent years. The U.S. team are an 11/8 bet.

Melissa Hollingsworth is favoured to win the women's skeleton with 6/4 odds.

Jeremy Wotherspoon was favoured 3/1 to win the men's 500-metre speed skating race.

Christine Nesbitt is favoured 4/9 to take the women's 1,000-metre title.

Kristina Groves was favoured 5/4 to win the women's 1,500-metre title.

Charles Hamelin (short track) was favoured 2/1 to win the men's 500-metre title.

SkyBet is not accepting wagers on snowboarding or freestyle skiing, but William Hill is taking wagers on snowboardcross. Whistler's Maëlle Ricker is the hands-down favourite with 11/4 odds, followed by Helene Olafsen and Lindsey Jacobellis at 7/2.



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