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ONLINE GAMBLING PAYS OFF.

In less than a decade, the online gambling industry has morphed from unheralded walk-on to a multibillion-dollar-a-year powerhouse, reports Newsfactor.com (March 29, 2002). Interactive Web sites instantly accommodate gamblers betting on sports teams or playing such casino games as poker and roulette. Authorities have tried to crack down with targeted prosecutions. But technology has all but trumped federal and state law. And U.S. congressional efforts to enact a tougher anti-gambling law have been bogged down in disagreement:

Roughly 1,400 Web sites run by about 300 companies have launched since 1995, according to Christiansen Capital. The firm projects that gross online sports wagering for 2003 will reach US$63.5 billion. Last year, gamblers worldwide lost about $3 billion at online sites. By comparison, gamblers at Nevada and New Jersey casinos lost US$13.8 billion;

Antigua -- a Caribbean island where online gambling is legal, Government-regulated and a major employer -- is home to more than 100 online wagering sites. Costa Rica, boasting far looser restrictions, also has welcomed more than 100 operations. Sports fans eager to bet on their favorite team simply establish a personal account with one of the offshore companies;

About 30,000 people, almost all from the USA, have become regular bettors with Antigua-based World Sports Exchange. Each customer sends the company $300, payable by credit card or bank check. In return, the company assigns account holders a password used to place bets, check account balances and review transactions. Winning bets are deposited in the accounts. "If you want to withdraw money, we'll FedEx you a check overnight," said a company official.

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Publication:Caribbean Update
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:50CAR
Date:May 1, 2002
Words:269
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