UK bookies rake in the cash on royal baby naming
The wait is over for royalists eagerly anticipating the name of the royal prince—but for some, the delay has meant big business.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William revealed they had named their first-born George Alexander Louis two days after the prince's birth on Monday.
But the wait was welcomed by U.K. bookmakers, who have taken in more than £1.6 million ($2.46 million) in baby-name bets as of Wednesday and reported a frenzy in demand since the birth.
Ladbrokes, one of Britain's largest bookmakers, estimated it had taken more than £360,000 in royal punts two days after the birth.
"It has been the most popular market we have ever offered, outside of sporting events," David Williams, head of public relations at Ladbrokes, told CNBC. "The appetite has been unprecedented."
He said interest spiked after the birth: "Since then it's gone into meltdown."
Those feeling lucky could pick from names including George—the favorite at 2-1—and more unusual options like Elvis, Barack and even Psy, after the South Korean pop sensation.
Williams said the royal parents had a "particular appeal" to the public.
"It's a perfect storm," he said. "You have a royal couple, fantastic weather and some great news. When all these things come together, people are prepared to have a flutter."
Irish betting firm Paddy Power also said demand had shot up. "There's been a lot of activity since it was announced that the baby was a boy," a representative told CNBC. "Up until then, the sex had been the betting focus."
Customers had placed around £500,000 in baby bets with the company, an amount that had even taken the company by surprise, he said.
Rival William Hill, which offered 50 name options including Thatcher at 250-1, said it had taken in over £400,000.
"But the demand's got us stumped," press office Joe Crilly told CNBC. "We thought we would have taken more on the royal wedding, but it's way surpassed that."
"For a one-off event this has been one of, if not the most popular markets in history," he added.
The company had received "a few" four-figure bets on the baby's name, but Crilly said most bets had been placed in much smaller amounts.
"The average bet on the baby's name was £6.20," he said. "This is just normal people having a cheeky little bet as royal hysteria sweeps the nation."
Bookmaker Coral said it took in close to £400,000 on the market, and that demand had increased "each hour."
"We were probably the only people happy with the delay in naming the baby," press officer David Stevens told CNBC.
He said the company has taken bets from around the world.
"You've only got to look at the TV channels to see the interest in our royal baby," he said. "It's captured the public's imagination—not just in U.K. but around the world."
-- By CNBC's Katrina Bishop. Follow her on Twitter @KatrinaBishop