Archive for Sunday, September 25, 2005

Internet betting impossible to regulate

September 25, 2005


Betting on college athletics is getting easier by the second. Sometimes it requires only a few minutes on a computer.

More than 2,000 Internet casinos based offshore - where United States laws don't extend - allow gamblers to bet on sports without leaving home, though it's illegal in 49 states.

That idea worries NCAA officials, who are fighting such simple methods of gambling because of the impact it can have on the credibility of amateur athletics - and the possible involvement of student-athletes.

"There may be no group in the country that has the kind of accessibility to the Internet that students do," NCAA spokesperson Jennifer Kearns said through e-mail.

In some instances, all that's needed is signing up for a free membership, punching in a credit-card number and making a deposit into an online account. Wagers can be made out of those funds.

Credit-card companies, though, are cracking down on offshore casino transactions - no matter how high the credit score. Such transactions are risky for financial institutions due to chances for fraud and the fact no signature is required to authorize purchase.

There are ways around the credit-card block, though, including third-party accounts like Neteller, a cyber money-wire service that takes funds directly out of one's bank account.

Reports estimate up to $100 billion is wagered on sports illegally, either through the Internet or bookmakers.

In comparison, the Nevada Gaming Commission says $2 billion a year is wagered legally at Las Vegas sportsbooks, and Kearns said the NCAA was "confident a working relationship will be built with the sports books out there."

Concerning the more accessible and more popular form of betting, Kearns said, "We will continue to fight the illegal gambling that occurs on intercollegiate sports on the Internet."

Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins also admitted his serious concern for Internet sports wagering, and does what he can to prevent it among his student-athletes.

Unfortunately, it's not as much as he'd like.

"We monitor all our Internet activity (on campus)," Perkins said. "We monitor that all the time for a lot of different reasons. Not just gambling."


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