Bookie so convinced of opposition victory in Australian national election, it pays bets early

The politicians insist an opposition victory in next week's Australian election is not a foregone conclusion. But one betting agency already is declaring a winner.

Sportsbet announced on Thursday that it paid out more than 1.5 million Australian dollars ($1.3 million) to bettors who put money on Tony Abbott's Liberal Party winning power at elections on Sept. 7.

Agency spokesman Haydn Lane says it took the unprecedented step of paying out beforehand because it was so confident of an election landslide.

A victory by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's center-left Labor Party is priced at AU$11.50 — the longest odds since betting opened immediately after the last election in 2010.

Rudd says his government still had a chance to win. Abbott says the contest remains "very, very tight."