Feeling lucky? Bet on the Nobel Prize for literature

Annie Baxter Oct 7, 2015
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Feeling lucky? Bet on the Nobel Prize for literature

Annie Baxter Oct 7, 2015
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Who will win the Nobel Prize in literature this year? That’s a topic some people — largely Europeans — are willing to wager on. The legality of doing so in America is murky at best, but a couple foreign bookmakers are taking bets, including Ladbrokes in the United Kingdom and Unibet Group, which is incorporated in Malta.

Both showed that the odds were good for journalist and prose writer Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus to win the prize, which carries a $1.2 million award.

“They’re not trying to predict the future; they’re trying to predict the market in bets,” said David G. Schwartz, a gambling expert at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

There is no “short list” of writers, and the Swedish Academy, a collection of writers and scholars who picks the winner, is known for its lack of hints on the matter.

Ladbrokes spokesman Alex Donohue said the fellow who calculates authors’ odds of winning the Nobel lit prize picks up on chatter in social media and blogs, where the consensus is building in favor of Alexievich, which also spelled Aleksijevitj.

“She has been one of the favorites of people betting for a number of years now,” he said. “Our assumption is it should only be a matter of time before she wins.”

Donohue said there were no dark horses emerging the week before the expected award announcement. But he said a few years ago people started talking up singer/songwriter Bob Dylan for the award, and he went from 100th on the list to having the best odds, though he didn’t win.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Alexsijevitj. The text has been corrected.

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