Gambling on a white Christmas is hotting up as betting shops said yesterday it was their best December for customers taking a punt on snow.
Across the industry gamblers will have placed over £1 million of bets on the chances of a white Christmas by the time the books close on Christmas Eve, according to Ladbrokes. But weather forecasters say they could be wasting their money.
Matt Dobson from MeteoGroupUK, weather division of the Press Association, said: "At this stage it looks pretty unlikely that there will be snow on Christmas Day - this cold spell we're experiencing at the moment is not going to last.
"Christmas Day is still over a week away so it's hard to be absolutely certain, but I'd say there's about an 85 per cent chance it won't snow."
Helen Chivers from the Met Office, agreed the likeli-hood of snow for Christmas would be slim. She said: "At the moment it looks as though it's going to be turning milder and unsettled. There's a question as to when that's going to happen but it looks at though it will be wet, not snowy, for Christmas Day."
But despite these warnings gamblers seem determined to take their chances. Ladbrokes said that this year more bets have been placed on a white Christmas in London than on snow in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff combined. More than 75 per cent of all bets have been on snow for the capital with odds of 4/1.
Ladbrokes spokesman Nick Weinberg said: "Londoners are more convinced than the rest of the country that snow's going to fall. Just the thought of it is enough to send a chill down our spines."
Traditionally he said that festive bets are placed on snow on Christmas Day and the Christmas number one. Now that The X Factor winner is almost guaranteed a number one hit, gamblers are taking their chances elsewhere.
But William Hill, who have set the odds of 11/2 for snow in London, said they had not had many weather bets this year.
Rupert Adams, from William Hill, said: "It's been one of the quietest years we've ever had - mainly because we haven't had any snow yet this year."