Gambling on the Net
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 96 18:00:21 -0700
Subject: Gambling on the Net
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <email@example.com>
Forwarded-by: "Timothy J.Dion" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Despite Lots of Obstacles, Gambling Is Making Its Way Out Onto the Net
-- By BRUCE ORWALL, for the Wall Street Interactive Journal.
It's not often that the world turns to tiny Liechtenstein, population
28,000, for leadership, much less in the heady world of technology. But
when it comes to gambling on the Internet, the postage-stamp-size
principality has everyone else yapping at its heels.
Why? Because in cyberspace, so far, there has been a lot of talking and
not much betting. And Liechtenstein has gone where few others have dared
to tread, with a national lottery called InterLotto.
The game, operated by the International Lottery in Liechtenstein
Foundation, is available exclusively on the Internet and is open to anyone
in the world. According to David Konig, InterLotto's U.S.-based marketing
director, the game was launched last October by the Liechtensteinian
monarchy to generate cash for charity.
To play, entrants first open an account at the lottery's World Wide Web
site using a credit card, and then purchase tickets against that account
for 10 Swiss francs -- about $8.30 -- apiece. The game itself is
traditional: Players pick six numbers from a field of 40, and drawings
are held weekly. Alpine Cash, a replication of lottery "scratch" games,
was introduced in February. In this game, a ticket with six concealed play
areas appears on your computer screen; picking three of the same dollar
values on the $1.66 ticket pays off up to $8,300. Winnings are forwarded
into a player's lottery account, where they can be used for additional
play or credited to personal accounts.
So far, though, Liechtenstein's game is as small as the country itself.
Jackpots for the numbers game usually top out at about $60,000, and the
game so far has only about 30,000 registered players. But Mr. Konig has
high hopes. InterLotto returns about 65% of the proceeds to players, as
opposed to 35% to 55% in U.S. lotteries, and he thinks that will attract
players. "I'd like to see us reach the jackpot level of an American
lottery," he adds.
That's not an impossible dream: Most experts still agree that the Net will
one day be a force to be reckoned with in the gambling industry.
Currently, however, concerns about the legality of placing bets on-line
have put a crimp in the spread of off-site gambling. Threatening noises
from politicians and suspicion about the offshore home bases of many
proposed Internet gambling sites haven't helped. And, in some cases, the
technology simply doesn't exist yet to make games entertaining and
credible, or to protect players' credit-card information.
"It's a wilderness out there," Mr. Konig says.
© 1996 Peter Langston