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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 23:58 GMT
What are the odds on the Budget?
Alistair Darling
The fall-out of the Northern Rock crisis is likely to feature
Alistair Darling will believe his Budget decisions are a sure bet - but will the punters?

Anyone who fancies a flutter on Mr Darling's first Budget speech is being offered a variety of potential bets by the bookmakers.

There are odds for the length of speech, how often the Chancellor mentions Northern Rock, and even the colour of his tie.

Mr Darling is delivering his Budget at 1230 GMT on Wednesday.

Betting fever

Most punters will be putting their money on jump racing's premier meeting, the Cheltenham Festival, which also takes place this week.

But they might also take a look at odds for the length of the Chancellor's speech.

William Hill was offering 8-1 that Mr Darling's speech will last 45 minutes or less, and 12-1 that it will go on for 81 minutes or more.

Spread betting group Cantor Spreadfair was predicting a speech of between 61 to 64 minutes.

Booze views

Predictions by Cantor Spreadfair on alcohol duty were increases of 1p to 1.5p on a pint of beer, 8p to 10p on a standard bottle of wine and 12.5p to 13.5p on a standard bottle of spirit.

Alistair Darling
Alistair Darling presents his first Budget on Wednesday

William Hill was offering odds of 7-2 that the price of beer will go up by 5p or more.

But Sporting Index believes he will not be turning to drink himself during the speech, predicting he will take just one sip of tap water during a 57-minute speech.

Tie colour

There is a strong chance of Northern Rock featuring in the speech, according to the bookies.

Cantor Spreadfair was predicting he will mention the government-owned bank six or seven times.

William Hill's odds were 1-3 that he will mention Northern Rock by name and 9-4 that he will not.

Ladbrokes was offering 50-1 that nationalisation is the first word or phrase he mentions.

An outside bet of 1,000-1 with William Hill is that Mr Darling, who has a cat and a rabbit, will take a penny off income tax for pet owners.

Ladbrokes were offering short odds that the Labour Chancellor will be wearing a red tie, at just 3-1, but blue was the favourite at 6-4.

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