|As the cardinals prepare for the ritual of choosing the next Pope, bookies are cashing in on the front-runners nationality. |
John Paul II was the first Pope in over 400 years to come from outside Italy, but according to William Hills, nine of the top twenty candidates are from Italy. However Nigerian Francis Arinze - who was the subject of the largest bet struck so far, of £500 - their 9/2 favourite. Hills make France's Jean-Marie Lustiger 5/1 second favourite, with Germany's Joseph Ratzinger 11/2 third favourite.
'Although the Italians dominate numerically, there are still several very strong contenders from different countries who could come through to win and we offer 5/4 that the next Pope will be Italian, but 4/7 that he will not,' said Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe.