MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti), Marina Elagina – As the endgame in the Scottish referendum frenzy draws to a close, all eyes are on the narrow gap between the "Yes" and "No" sides in the pre-referendum opinion polls, not least those of the bookmakers who literally have a lot at stake.
Online surveys by ICM, Survation and Opinium across the United Kingdom generally put the "No" campaign ahead with 52 percent to 48 percent for "Yes," but these polls do not include the 8 percent of undecided voters who can potentially turn the tables on pro-unity voters.
Despite such a huge portion of swing votes, all major British bookmakers seem to have little doubt in the outcome that will take the weight off British Prime Minister David Cameron's mind – and that weight is considerable since the same bookies are now offering odds of 8-1 on Cameron being forced to resign if Scotland splits from the United Kingdom.
Whatever the outcome, Britain's top bookmaker William Hill predicts the Scottish independence referendum to be the "the biggest political betting event of all time." The proof of this is a hefty sum of over 2 million pounds, or almost $3.3 million, which it expects to be staked on the result.
The odds for Scottish independence currently stand at 3 to 1, meaning that a pound staked on Scotland's quitting the 307-year-old union will bring four pounds if the prayers of Scottish nationalist First Minister Alex Salmond are heard, whereas a pound for a negative vote will net only 1.22.
Ladbrokes, which positions itself as the world's betting and gambling leader, has meanwhile set the payout at 4.50 for a "Yes" vote and a 1.20 for a "No."
Popular London-based bookie, Betfair, claimed Tuesday its trust in the accuracy of its data predicting the pro-union outcome was so firm it said it was ready to pay out on bets three days in advance. Its calculation is 79 percent in favor of a "No" vote. Betfair added however it would be still open for bets until the decision was announced.
The rest of the world looking at the crucial referendum apparently could not care less about betting stakes, since the Scottish independence vote also has their own integrity in its grip, with independence ripples threatening to go across the nationalist-minded European Union and beyond.
So far, the vote has fueled hopes in Germany's Free State and former Kingdom of Bavaria, Spain's economic powerhouse Catalonia, Italy's Sardinia, as well as Canada's Quebec and even Wales.
The separatist Bavaria Party chairman Florian Weber was cited by NBC News as saying that, "We hope that the vote will send a clear signal for Europe and that in the long run, Bavaria will become an independent member of the European Union."
The run-up to the Scottish independence vote has also been a nail-biting time for Brussels, since a "Yes" vote is predicted to tip the balance in the United Kingdom in favor of eurosceptics – and this ahead of Britain's EU membership referendum in 2017.
Philipp Missfelder, foreign policy speaker of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, echoed this fear saying in a comment to Reuters that, "Scotland's separation from the union would definitely turn up the heat of the debate around the upcoming [EU membership] referendum in England."
But not everyone in the European Union is that pessimistic. For Flemish members of parliament, Scotland's vote for separation could mean a better chance for Flanders" secession from Belgium, and St. Andrew's Cross flags adorning their offices are a clear sign of that support.
In Italy's Southern Tyrol, renewed calls for independence are also being heard. The majority German-speaking region reportedly voted 90 percent in favor of self-determination, according to local separatist party South Tirolean Freedom. In the future, this could mean either "full independence from Italy or re-annexation to Austria," The Guardian quoted the party's leader Eva Klotz as saying.
In Bosnia, the Serbian enclave is just as anxious to get a precedent they could follow, and in Spain's free-spirited Catalonia, which prides itself on having its own language and distinctive culture, people are preparing for a similar referendum set for November 9, although Madrid has already refused to recognize the outcome.
Even in the United States, the melting pot state of Texas continues to exhibit an independent streak. According to Reuters, Scotland's push for freedom has only bolstered Texans" resolve to break away from the union of stars and stripes.
"If Scotland can do it, so can Texas," the state's Nationalist Movement leader Daniel Miller was quoted as saying.