Rihanna and Chris Brown have been back in the headlines ever since RiRi was spotted exiting her abusive ex-boyfriend's dressing room at the Grammys, looking disheveled and sporting a coy smile. Since then the gossip-hungry public has been captivated by rumors that the two are secretly dating, planning to reunite, or possibly engaged, and have also happily watched as Rihanna and Brown's current girlfriend, Karrueche, sniped at each other online, and Breezy himself faces the possibility of getting arrested for stealing a fan's iPhone in Miami.
RiRi fans looking to increase their stake in the entire debacle need look no further than Paddy Powers, an Irish online bookie company known for its notoriously inappropriate novelty bets (during the 2010 BP oil spill they offered gamblers the opportunity to bet on which animal species the excess crude oil would push to extinction first).
HE RI RI LIKES HER - BROWN FAVOURITE TO WOO RIHANNA reads the headline of Paddy Power's press release.
Chris Brown is the safest bet at 2-7 odds. Leading the pack after Breezy are Colin Farrell (8-1), Justin Timberlake (12-1) and Travis Barker (16-1). Tinie Tempah, Jake Gyllenhall, Eminem and Matt Cardle are all evenly matched at 25-1. Will.i.am, Bruno Mars, Steve Jones and Jeremy Renner are clustered at the next level at 33-1. Justin Bieber and Leonardo Di Caprio apparently have equally unlikely odds of wooing the Barbadian singer, with a return of 40-1.
Across the pond in Ireland however, no laws or stigma keep celebrity-betting from taking place. In fact, they're good publicity, drawing attention to sports betting by feeding off celeb gossip. The bets themselves are low stakes and don't make the companies very much money.
Although betting on the personal lives of celebrities is both illegal and stigmatized in the U.S., across the Atlantic Ocean, Paddy Powers has no problem drawing bettors in with gossip-based gambling. Though the bets don't make much money for the company, they bring in customers who might not have otherwise considered placing bets on sporting events.
Féilim Mac An Iomaire, an advertising exec at Paddy Powers, told the Las Vegas Sun that customers can get very serious about novelty betting over issues like elections and award shows, but that the celeb romance markets are usually lower key.
Overall, novelty bets contribute just 1 percent of Paddy Power's profits, but trashy issues like Rihanna's romantic life can bring in a high volume of clients, causing an overall spike in profits. Novelty bets always have very specific conditions. For example, the Rihanna-boyfriend wager only counts if both parties go public with the information by May 31, 2012.
The practice of betting on capitalizing on the personal lives of celebrities has become common practice. The act can be traced back to Wynn Director of Race and Sports Johnn Avello, who first started selling novelty bets for US Weekly and Rolling Stone in 2000 when reality TV became popular.
People like to the see odds set on who's the favorite to win, it's fun, it has entertainment value, Avello told the Sun, adding that the odds on awards shows, band reunions and competition shows like Dancing With the Stars are particularly popular.
In Nevada, the gambling capital of America, it's against the law to bet on celebrities lives. According to Avello, the Gaming Control Board maintains a firm stance against these types of bets, which is alright with bookies.
If it's a prop like how long someone's marriage will last, I really don't want to touch it, because that person could be a customer of Las Vegas. I don't want to offend someone, especially someone I might run into in person one day, Avello told the Sun.