LONDON – The action was typical for a Sunday morning in a British betting parlor with lots of football (soccer) and horse racing.
However, there was – at least at a William Hill in Central London – a steady interest in an event where the field wasn't even yet set: the men's 100-meter final scheduled for Sunday evening at Olympic Stadium.
British bookmakers, and they are on nearly every corner of this city, said while Olympic betting overall has been slow this one highly anticipated event has taken the bulk of the action. Even if the semifinals are still to come (two hours before the final).
Regardless, most of the action has been on Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the world record holder, defending Olympic champ and biggest global star of these Games.
At William Hill, Bolt is an 8-to-11 favorite to win – for you non-bettors, that means you need to bet 11 dollars to win eight – and he goes off at 5/2 to win and set a world record.
His countryman, Yohan Blake, is 7/4 to win. Americans Ryan Bailey and Tyson gay are 14/1 and Justin Gatlin is 16/1.
[ Photos: Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake ]
The odds over at Coral were similar. Bolt (8/11), Blake (13/8), Bailey and Gay (16/1]), Gatlin (20/1). You could take a home nation longshot on James Dasaolu at 250/1.
Perhaps more interesting are the prop bets. They'll bet on almost anything in England. At Ladbrokes, Barack Obama is 4/9 to win the Presidential election. Mitt Romney is 7/4 and Ron Paul is 50/1.
So for the 100 meters at Coral, you can bet that there will be a new world record (Bolt's 9.58 has held since 2009). Yes is 7/4, no is 2/5. New Olympic record (Bolt's 9.69 set in 2008) goes off at 9/4 for yes, 1/3 for no.
[ Video: Usain Bolt's Memorable Moment ]
Coral also offered odds on the winning time, regardless of what man sets it. Sub-9.5 is 12/1, a bet that if it wins would redefine the term quick money. A finish from 9.59 to 9.5 is 11/4, 9.69 to 9.6 is 9/4 and so on. 9.9 and up is 8/1.
A Jamaican 1-2-3 – Bolt, Blake and Asafa Powell in any order – is 4/1. A Jamaican gold-silver pays out at 2/5 yes or 7/4 no.
Betting Bolt will finish in at least the top three appears safe. Even Gatlin noted after Saturday's preliminary heats that he believed any of the eight finalists could win. But the odds won't pay much – 1/8 on Bolt and Blake.
At Betfred out by Wembley Stadium, the odds were a bit more favorable with Bolt going off at 4/5 and Blake at 6/4. Gatlin was all the way down to 12/1. You could also get 5/4 on a Bolt-Blake gold-silver finish and 7/4 on Blake-Bolt gold-silver.
"A lot of bets are coming in on the 100 meter," said the man working the counter at the William Hill. "It should pick up all day. This is the only race anyone here cares about."
The 100-meter final will take place at 4:50 p.m. ET. An expected crowd of 80,000 at Olympic Stadium and a lot of neighborhood gamblers across London will be watching closely.
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