Bookmakers lose interest in “shoo-in” Russia vote

r4.jpgMOSCOW (Reuters) – An Internet bookmaker has stopped taking bets on Russia’s presidential election because the outcome is so predictable.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been overwhelming favorite to win Sunday’s election since his mentor, outgoing President Vladimir Putin, endorsed him for the job in December.

“We closed (our book on the Russian election) around the time of the endorsement from Putin,” said Lennart Ehlinger, political odds compiler at Unibet, a Maltese-registered Internet gaming firm.

“I think that probably we have a very likely winner in the election now, and if we put something up later on it will probably be about the percentage that the winning candidate will have,” he told Reuters.

Intrade, a spreadbetting firm incorporated in Ireland, said it was still taking wagers on the election, but that interest was slight. The company runs a virtual stock exchange where people can trade in possible outcomes of the vote.

Asked if there was much trading activity, Intrade’s exchange operations manager Carl Wolfenden said: “Not really at all, unfortunately. Things have been pretty light really.”

“The main thing is, I guess, people are not that interested. … It is not that much of a contest,” he said. “The market thinks he (Medvedev) is a shoo-in.”

Kremlin critics say Medvedev enjoys an unfair advantage that has turned the election into a one-horse race. He has been given blanket coverage on national television and officials from Putin down are backing his campaign.

Most voters though see Medvedev as natural heir to the popular Putin and see the 42-year-old former corporate lawyer as the best chance of prolonging Russia’s economic boom.

The latest opinion poll by state-owned pollster VTsIOM gave Medvedev 70 percent support. Nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky was in second place on 11 percent and Zyuganov third with 10 percent.

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