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Betting on the Net

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, January 26, 1999

Placing bets on the net. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bootcamp, a report on computers and technology. Whether it's the Superbowl or any other sporting event, a lot of people like to wager on the outcome. The Internet, has made it easy and in the eyes of some, legal. Congress may change that status this year. A bill that would outlaw online gambling was passed easily by the senate last year, but wasn't taken up by the house. But at sites like easybets.com in Dublin, oddsmaker Alan Weinrib says they aren't doing anything wrong...

"I mean we are licensed bookmakers, both licensed by the Irish government and in the Dominican Republic and as far as betting is concerned, our license entitles us to take bets from anywhere in the world."

And even if Congress enacts a ban, Tom Bell of the Washington based Cato Institute says, how can it be enforced? The sites themselves are outside of the U.S. and the gamblers...

"The problem there is detecting and catching them. There are millions of those people and it's very hard to figure out when they are gambling and when they aren't."

One analyst we spoke to says the government could try to force Internet service providers to block access to gambling sites. But Bell believes eventually states will want to license sites to cash in on the wagering...

"Internet gambling gives every indication of growing rapidly."

And he wouldn't want to bet against it.