Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson is a likely candidate for the next pope. Reuters

People are willing to gamble on anything, including Pope Benedict XVI’s successor. As Pope Benedict XVI steps down from the papacy on Thursday, oddsmakers and bookies are taking bets on who will be the next pope, and the favorite is Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana.

Pope Benedict announced he would resign, the first pope to do so in 600 years, effective Thursday. As the pope steps down, the College of Cardinals will begin their search for Benedict’s successor, and that has given oddsmakers the chance to gamble on the Vatican.

According to the Associated Press, Turkson is the favorite, with 5/2 odds at William Hill and 11/4 odds at Ladbrokes. Turkson would be the first African pope, and his selection makes sense as the Vatican looks to the new pope as a reflection of the emergence of Catholicism in Africa or Latin America.

Some experts disregard the notion of nationality, CNN noted, and, for many, Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, is the favorite to be the successor. At William Hill, Scola’s odds are at 5/2, while Ladbrokes has Scola at 3/1 odds. The oddsmakers also favor Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco as the other potential successors.

Bertone is a Vatican prelate and serves as a state diplomat and camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, overseeing the property and revenue of the Vatican. Cardinal Marc Ouellet is Canadian and serves as the head of the Congregation for Bishops. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco is another Italian and is the Archbishop of Genoa.

William Hill and Ladbrokes have Bertone at 4/1 odds. Ouellet is at 6/1 odds at William Hill and 7/1 odds at Ladbrokes, while Bagnasco has the biggest disparity between the oddsmakers -- William Hill has given him 5/1 odds, while Ladbrokes has him at 10/1 odds.

As for New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, he is considered a longshot by the bookies. For William Hill, Dolan is at 20/1 odds, while Ladbrokes has him at 25/1 odds.

Pope Benedict's decision to resign has been heavily speculated upon. As previously reported by IBTimes, the Vatican discussed Benedict's failing health as one factor, while others believe the growing gay sex scandal was a contributing reason for his resignation.