Betting Against Tony? Fuhgeddaboudit.

For seven seasons, James Gandolfini has starred in the HBO series
For seven seasons, James Gandolfini has starred in the HBO series "The Sopranos," the last episode of which is to air Sunday. (Craig Blankenhorn - AP)
By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 8, 2007

You bet your life. And now you can bet Tony Soprano's life.

Online gambling sites Bodog.com and Betus.com are taking bets on whether the head of HBO's New Jersey crime family makes it out alive from Sunday night's series finale. So far, the smart money is on Tony living.

The gambling sites are also taking action on the fates of the drama's other characters: Silvio Dante (in a coma), Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri (fuhgeddaboudit!) and rival Mafia boss Phil Leotardo ( so has it coming). Bodog's lines changed throughout yesterday, moving strongly toward the scenario that Tony survives, as more bets were placed and the odds moved in his favor.

Maybe the sites should also take bets on whether James Gandolfini will have a career after Sunday night, after being so closely associated with one unforgettable character for a seven-season series.

"My advice to all the gamblers out there is 'Don't bet against David Chase,' " creator of "The Sopranos," HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer said. "He defies all theories of probability."

Online gambling is no longer limited to hitting the sports books, dealing at cards or playing the ponies. Web gamblers have a wide array of entertainment and political options to place their bets. For instance, Bodog is taking wagers on Rosie O'Donnell's replacement on the TV talk show "The View," giving 4-to-1 odds for front-runner Kathy Griffin. You can even lay money on the presidential campaign song Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) might choose, with "Beautiful Day" by the Irish rock band U2 coming in as a 3-to-2 favorite.

Online gambling sites have been taking heat over the past year. President Bush signed a law in October barring the use of credit cards to make and settle online wagers, forcing the largely offshore business to regroup even as the FBI continues to arrest those involved with the industry. It is an ongoing drama that sounds like a "Sopranos" storyline.

Sites such as Bodog, which is based in Antigua, and Betus, based in Costa Rica, have survived on the strength of their vig, which is the fee charged by bookmakers to use their service.

The maximum bet Bodog will take is $50, to guard against bettors who know the series outcome -- HBO insiders, perhaps? -- from cleaning up. The finale was filmed in March.

"Being the final episode of what is very likely the last ever season of 'The Sopranos,' everyone is itching to know what's going to happen," Bodog founder Calvin Ayre said in an e-mail. "With that being said, betting on Bodog.com's 'Sopranos' odds has been incredibly popular; we've received hundreds of bets across all the 'Sopranos' odds being offered."

At both Web sites, gamblers can wager on who will be killed first -- Tony or Phil, if either. Betus's oddsmakers are favoring a longer life for Tony than 'tardo. The sites have all the angles covered: "If both are killed, winner will be determined by whoever is killed first in the show, regardless of flashbacks or non-linear story telling," Betus said.


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