Aussies to bet $150m on Melbourne Cup
By Paul
Nine out of Ten Australians will place a bet on tomorrow's Melbourne Cup with a record $150 million set to be wagered on the horse race.

Betting agencies have $8 million in less than 24 hours. The favourites for the $4 million ($2.2 million) 3200m race are Irish stayer Media Puzzle at $5 ($2.80), Vinnie Roe at $6.50 ($3.64) and Distinctly Secret at $7.50 ($4.20).

In New South Wales (NSW), the TAB (Australia’s betting authority, similar to OTB in the US) predicts that:

The online gambling boom will hit record levels, with 250,000 phone bets and more than 250,000 Internet bets expected; Over $40 million ($22.43 million) will be spent on the Cup alone, a NSW record; Bets on the entire day's fixtures will pass $70 million ($39.25 million); More than six million betting slips will be issued through TABs, pubs and clubs; and at peak times, 34,000 slips per minute will be sold, with the TAB putting on extra staff to handle the traffic and to help people who do not gamble regularly.

The race is made all the more important in the aftermath of the Bali bombings and in the middle of the worst drought in decades. The tradition of the Cup has become a much-needed chance for Australians to briefly forget their worries.

'It has tradition, it is the icon of all sport in Australia and a metaphor for our lives, where you can win big against all costs,' Sydney University anthropologist Dr Stephen Juan said yesterday.

'In times of tragedy, cultures fall back on tradition. It's a way of recovering because, when so much is uncertain, you try and make as many things in your life as certain as possible.'

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