CNN – Gambling online? You bet!

. In 1997, published reports put the total number of operating online casinos at 15. Like the Communications Act passed in the 1930s, technology has now leapfrogged the law. That makes for an Internet gambling environment too porous for U.S law enforcement to plug. Passed during the term of crime-fighter Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the law was intended to outlaw betting over telephone lines.

One major barrier to profitability is the law.

But a hard-core base will continue to turn to Internet betting for its clear advantages. “We get daily reports, and you’ll see these people who spend a couple of hours gambling, and the total amount they bet is like $1.81,” says Thomas Holmes, Inland’s head of technology. college and professional sports. Almost all online gambling sites work the same. Casino games are available on a site or via downloadable software. The Justice Department doesn’t think that online casinos (including those that offer gambling on sports events) can legally conduct business in the United States, even if they are based in places where gambling is legal.

All the sites indicted by the U.S. Justice believes that any legislation addressing criminal misuse of computers or computer systems (including the Internet) should have three vital characteristics. “I wager on football games and usually bet in the neighborhood of $1,000 every weekend. Tony Cabot, an attorney specializing in gaming issues, says flatly, “When you see Kerry Packer get together with Microsoft, you have to believe there is a future for this type of wagering.”

Although it uses a CryptoLogic template similar to several other online casinos, Kennyrogerscasino.com may be unique in letting bettors wager as little as a penny at a time. The American Gaming Association, a trade group of gaming firms, maintains this view regarding online wagering: “The industry has been state-regulated and we think it should remain that way.

The office of U.S. The defendants, many of whom live abroad, were threatened with up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines. attorney’s case involved the casinos’ sportsbooks. According to an analysis by Sue Schieder of Rolling Good Times, the online gambling magazine, the new legislation would not punish the casual bettor.

But over the last several months, at least some traditional casinos have pursued the time-honored strategy of joining an Internet gambling trend that they can’t beat. Failure to account for that specificity in legislation could stifle the Internet’s growth or chill its use as a communications tool. White’s hesitancy suggests that the law may not be as solid as she thought when she indicted. But the travails associated with fending off lawsuits have essentially put the company out of business. “I use the service because it’s convenient and I have access to it when I want,” says one online gambler. “Since there are no controls at present regarding Internet wagering, I would urge investors to shun these firms at present,” he says. But they say the more bettors, the better. 474, introduced into the Senate by Arizona’s John Kyl in 1997 as the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. One of Microsoft (MSFT)’s less-publicized adventures is Ninemsn, an Australia-based Internet service to which Bill Gates has pledged tens of millions of dollars. The Internet is presently unregulated and we support a federal law regulating Internet gambling.”

So how is it that these companies appear to operate legally, but a dozen Caribbean cowboys found themselves under felony indictment?

Does the seeming invincibility of online gambling make it an enticing business? Jason Ader of Bear Stearns, urges caution. At one point, Interactive Gaming looked like it could be an industry leader. Bets generally range from $1 to as much as $300.

Take Interactive Gaming and Communications, another publicly traded company, located in Blue Bell, Pa. Says Opel, “Bringing in the big names and established companies only adds credibility and visibility to what we’re already doing.”

Is it legal?

A few hurdles have to be cleared before such ventures can take off – beginning with the federal government. Says Sinclair of Christiansen/Cummings: “You are going to feel more comfortable wagering with a Hilton than you will with Joe’s Casino.”

But the growing acceptance of online betting and the Internet’s inherent ability to shatter jurisdictions bring the inconsistencies of American gaming law to a boil. Nor would it prohibit online fantasy sports leagues, online lotteries in states where they are legal, or online betting on any live horse race where it would otherwise be lawful to wager. They almost always include slots, blackjack and video poker, but many sites carry more exotic games, from baccarat to pai gow. has had little cooperation from any other nation. “Federal legislation will make it difficult but not impossible for Internet gamblers in the U.S. “And it is possible that records could be subpoenaed of various banks where these companies maintain accounts.”

First, legislation should treat physical activity and cyberactivity in the same way. “The telephone is being used to facilitate these wagers and I believe the government has a solid case,” explains Tony Cabot, a Las Vegas-based gaming lawyer and author of a book on Internet gaming.

Similarly, the Las Vegas-based public company American Wagering, owner of Leroy’s Horse and Sports Place in Nevada, also operates a sports gambling site located in Canberra called MegaSports (www.megasports.com.au). “Ultimately, Internet gambling operators are selling a product.

Is Microsoft betting too?

The potential action is too compelling for even the largest tech tycoons to resist.

Gambling is as at least as old as Christianity (that is, if Ben Hur can be trusted).

The amount spent on Internet gambling is harder to calculate. Kyl introduced a revised version earlier this year, removing some of the more onerous and hard-to-enforce provisions. Today, a roster on one “gambling portal” site lists well over 200. Packer is a man with a voracious gambling appetite. Attorney White has proceeded slowly and quietly. attorney for the Southern District of New York, indicted 14 managers of six Internet companies for offering gambling on their sites. Aruba, for one, is refusing to extradite any indicted individuals to the U.S., and thus far the U.S. The Standard obtained a Department of Justice analysis of the bill S. In most cases, this means operating out of Australia. (The company’s Indian casino and Web-development divisions make more.) “This is the really exciting point, because I know where it goes from here,” Speer said in an interview.

Today, Americans spend some $600 billion a year on legal gambling, making it by far the favored national pastime. For decades, Vegas was about the only legal option for gamblers.

It’s not because they operate in any fundamentally different way. As Timothy L. For one thing, gambling from one’s home allows for a variety of techniques that would get one tossed out of a regular casino. Would-be wagerers open an account with a credit card, although some sites also accept cash and cashier’s checks. (The company did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.)

Group calls for regulation of Net gambling

For years, another barrier to the growth of Internet gambling has been strong opposition from those most threatened by gambling sites: legal American casinos.

Prosecutors focus on sports betting

Intriguingly, though, all the bets that make up the U.S. In November 1998, for example, a division of Hilton Hotels acquired the company that runs Centrebet, a Web and telephone sports-wagering system based in Australia (www.centrebet.com.au). But as more and more traditional firms become involved, the consumer will look for the brand name. FBI agents placed bets on games – uniformly National Football League matches, although many other options are available – and followed up, whether they won or lost. If, on the other hand, an activity is in the physical world – betting on horses, or casino betting with Indian tribes – it becomes subject to federal criminal sanction when it occurs in cyberspace.

The original version of Kyl’s bill failed most of these tests. In the ’70s, Atlantic City legalized casino gambling; in the ensuing decades, state lotteries, Indian casinos, gaming ships, offtrack betting parlors and card clubs have sprouted across the landscape.

Finally, the DoJ believes that any federal law must recognize that the Internet is different from other communications media: It’s a multifaceted communications medium that allows for both point-to-point transmission between two parties (like the telephone), as well as the widespread dissemination of information to a vast audience (like a newspaper). If an activity is prohibited in the physical world but not on the Internet, the Internet becomes a safe haven for that criminal activity. The minimum amount to begin an account varies. That figure exaggerates the size of the Internet gambling sector, since some companies operate more than one online betting parlor.

If such gamblers are not satisfied by options available to U.S. That may suggest that, as some legal observers have argued, the 1961 federal Wire Act is too old and too loosely written to prohibit online gambling. Why should it be legal to bet online on a horse race in another state, but not legal to bet on a basketball game in one’s own state? If Native American tribes can establish new, legal, physical places where adults can gamble, why shouldn’t someone be able to do the same in cyberspace?

Second, legislation should be technology-neutral. One Australian state, Queensland, is already awarding licenses for online gambling, and others may follow soon. He claims Inland’s Internet gambling business went slightly into the black in March, on annualized revenues of about $1 million. In January, MegaSports began taking Internet bets from Australians; it expects soon to allow global gambling on sporting events. But according to Inland CEO Don Speer, elusive profits need not be one of them. “Think about what would happen to Wal-Mart (WMT), General Motors or Microsoft if these companies had to continue to dodge federal roadblocks to access their customers,” says Sebastian Sinclair, senior associate at Christiansen/Cummings Associates, a management consulting firm. The Wire Act obviously has no mention of wagering over the Internet. attorney’s office theoretically operate out of the Caribbean. In a highly publicized March 1998 “raid,” Mary Jo White, the U.S. I’ve not had problems being paid.”

The prosecutors’ focus on sports bets appears to stem from legal precedent in the law they relied on. But following a 1997 indictment, the state of Missouri settled a suit against the company and its president, Michael Simone, for about $35,000. Together, these sites have about 4,300 registered customers in 96 countries around the world. The vast majority of customers will satisfy their demand for commercial gambling through less onerous and risky alternatives, such as lotteries, bingo, pari-mutuels and casinos.”

Internet Gambling Worldwide, Past and Future

Nonetheless, some experts think the case could be made to stick. But even if Congress comes up with the best-crafted legislation in history, there are significant factors beyond its control. O’Brien observes in Bad Bet, his comprehensive account of America’s gambling industry, “Judging by dollars spent, gambling is now more popular in America than baseball, the movies and Disneyland combined.”

That partnership leads many observers to believe that an online casino – using Microsoft platforms, of course – is in the works. to gain access to offshore sites,” says Sebastian Sinclair of Christiansen/Cummings. Her higher-ups in the Justice Department appear to agree. Legislation tied to a particular technology may quickly become obsolete and require further amendment. Anyone over the age of 18 can set up an account with Centrebet and place money on a variety of worldwide sporting events, including U.S. (However, an HBO sports program attempted to locate one of these ventures in Aruba, and ultimately found that the genuine server was in a residential neighborhood in Bethlehem, Pa.) And the Caribbean nations would like to keep their haven status.

More than a year later, however, no cases have come to trial, and nine defendants have accepted plea bargains for state misdemeanor charges with no jail time. Even the precise number of online casinos is hard to calculate. Estimates range from $650 million to $1 billion a year, worldwide – a tiny fraction of the amount spent on more traditional formats. Even the firms that have enjoyed some stock-price popularity – such as Youbet.com – have shaky fundamentals. In 1998, the Senate passed, by a large margin, an amendment prohibiting Internet gambling, but that bill died before becoming law. Their case is based on the 1961 Wire Act. Blackjack players can very easily count cards, or even consult odds charts; the Kennyrogerscasino.com site actually has a printable chart showing the best strategy for every possible hand of blackjack. A Ninemsn spokesperson says that the site does not now offer online gambling and would not comment on future plans.

You might think that the prospect of competing against the likes of Microsoft would terrify a $20 million company like Inland. Legislators have considered enlisting Internet service providers to patrol for undesirable sites, although Internet gambling insiders consider that proposal dead on arrival. His equal partner is Australian tycoon Kerry Packer of the Crown Casino in Victoria. … About 2,000 years later, Bugsy Siegel took the concept a step further and built the Flamingo Hotel in the desert town of Las Vegas. Inland, for example, operates two Web sites in addition to the one bearing Kenny Rogers’ likeness: Casinoaustralia.com and Goodluckclub.com. And for sports bettors – who make up a majority of online gamblers, according to industry insiders – the ease of using cyberbookies can’t be beat.

Running an online casino carries all the usual challenges of Internet businesses, from low click-through rates to servers that fail. citizens, it will be increasingly tempting for them to turn to locations abroad

Online Gambling: A Growing Addiction

These are things that I avoided my whole life, not choosing to be a part of, but today I cherish them.”

“I became this person I didn’t know,” he said. Win or lose, it didn’t matter to me, it just set me up to bet again.”

“I think it’s a devastating illness, it’s an illness that if it’s not treated, it will end up that the person’s whole lifestyle will be affected,” said Ed Looney, executive director of Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.

The problem is affecting younger people as well. The college bowl games this weekend lead to the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. People love to bet on their football games.”

“Life is great,” Erickson said. There are an estimated 6 million people who deal with the problem in the United States. except Nevada.

But soon, it spiraled out of control.

Three and a half years ago, Erickson accrued $400,000 in gambling debts. As gambling on the Internet becomes more popular and more sites crop up, those numbers are expected to increase.

“Sports betting is the rock of Gibraltar,” Looney said. “But I thought this must be what I have to do. ‘A Devastating Illness’

Erickson is a compulsive gambler, a condition just as dangerous and debilitating as drug or alcohol addiction. “The miracles I’ve experienced. The sharing of experiences with friends, family, like I’ve never seen before. Drawn in by the popularity of poker, half of all men in college are gambling on an monthly basis — even though betting on sports is illegal everywhere in the U.S. And when they caught on, he left his family and fled.

If you or your loved ones has a gambling problem, help can be found at the National Council on Problem Gambling.. “It becomes an all-consuming activity. He considered going to Mexico and if he couldn’t kill himself there, he’d pay someone else to do it, he said.

After 23 days on the run, Erickson turned himself in. The lining up the money, the handicapping of the game, the betting of the game, the watching of the game. By some estimates, $7 billion is wagered on the Super Bowl alone in casinos, online and with bookies.

The situation became so dire, that Erickson contemplated killing himself. “It’s American, like apple pie. Desperate, he began stealing from his clients. I got myself into this. Then, it’s March Madness, where many participate in an office betting pool.

Mark Erickson always craved a piece of the action — so the accountant from Phoenix started betting on sports over the Internet.

“I’ve heard other people compare it to a cocaine addiction, the high you get from that, and that’s the euphoria I felt,” he said. He served a year in prison and now works for a compulsive gambling helpline. He credits a 12-step program to helping him overcome his problem, and he has not gambled in almost four years.

It is now high season for sports betting. That will always be there. I got to get myself out of it.

Nevertheless, the industry rakes in mind-boggling amounts of cash. People love to bet on it

Funny NCAA Bracket Names 2012

Coming up with a funny or witty NCAA basketball bracket name is almost as much fun as watching the March Madness games and cheering for teams that you know nothing about but picked to go to the Sweet 16 because of a tip you overheard while at the bar doing your “research” for the NCAA tournament. At least that’s what we all tell ourselves as our brackets are statistically eliminated after the first weekend.

Below is a list of some funny NCAA basketball bracket names that I have come up with, heard of, seen in some of my pools over the years, or saw on a forum at some point. NCAA brackets with the best names have almost as much bragging rights as the people who actually win their pools. Feel free to add to the list by leaving a comment with your funny NCAA bracket name and show the world that even though you know nothing about college basketball (or at least not as much as the blonde from the office who had her dog make all of her picks), you know enough to get a laugh out of your bracket name.