March 14, 2003 12:20 PM

Keep your money in your pocket. That’s the word from London betting company Ladbrokes Ltd., which has been so swamped by customers plunking down money on “Chicago” for Oscar’s Best Picture that it’s now declining any more wagers, Reuters reports.

The musical is up for 13 Academy Awards Sunday including Best Actress (Renee Zellweger), Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah), Supporting Actor (John C. Reilly) and Best Director (Rob Marshall).

Ladbrokes points out that it hasn’t ruled out “Chicago” wagers altogether; it’s still taking bets on many of the categories. Just not Best Picture.

“We’ve never had such a concerted interest in one motion picture,” a spokesman for the company said in a statement.

Competing with “Chicago” for Best Picture honors Sunday are “The Hours,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Pianist” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”

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