A New Twist to Playing the Dow

12 April 1999
If the stock market isn't crazy enough already, an offshore Internet sports book is now taking bets on the daily ups and downs of the Dow Jones industrial average.

The Kansas City Star reports that Inversiones Ibarburu, based in Costa Rica, began taking bets on the Dow's close in late March on its Web site, www.bestbetsports.com. The company tested the wagering waters when it accepted bets on who would win the Oscars. According to customer service manager Tony Price, "We got pretty good play on the Academy Awards. We're looking at areas to expand."

There's only one problem: "It's illegal," says John Russell of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Not so, according to Internet operators, who contend that their offshore casino and sports book sites operate legally in those countries and thus are beyond the reach of U.S. federal and state law.

While many feel the answer to the problem is legislation, in the form of the Kyl bill, others feel that regulation is a better strategy. Interactive Gaming Council Chair Sue Schneider, says there are now more than 300 gambling sites on the Internet, with more being added every month. "It can't be stopped," Schneider says of cyber-gaming.

As any PC user can tell you, technology and the Internet are evolving at light speed. Since legal and legislative evolution is best measured in geologic time, Schneider might just be right.