A friendly wager

David Pressgrove

Wanna bet?

That had to be one of my most popular comebacks during childhood. Right up there with “nuh-uh” and “you’re more stupider.”

Thanks to the Internet, “wanna bet?” is no longer an adolescent retort. If you search hard enough, you can wager on just about anything through the Internet.

You could even wager on whose dad is bigger.

About twice a week, I receive an e-mail from several offshore, online gambling sites.

The e-mails are mostly about wagers on sporting events, but some of the nonsports-related wagers can be quite amusing.

I could have wagered on the Michael Jackson trial. On whether he would be found guilty, whether he would fire his attorney or whether he would take the stand.

Some other favorite wagers I’ve received this year: who will replace Dan Rather at CBS, how many games will the Yankees lose this season and who will replace the pope.

It all seems silly to me, but apparently there are more than a few people who entertain these entertainment sites.

Online gambling is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Merrill Lynch predicts the industry will grow to $177 billion by 2015 from $3 billion in 2000. More than half of that money will come from online sports gambling.

Those are some big numbers. Because online gambling establishments are illegal in the United States, not very much of that money is staying here. And according to research done by Christiansen Capital Advisors, 5.3 million of the 12 million online gamblers are Americans. Whether you are for or against gambling, those numbers are not in our favor.

Where does all the money go? The Caribbean is a hotbed for online wagering sites. The two sites I receive e-mails from are based in Costa Rica. Australia also is raking in the dough from online wagering.

I’ve never been a big gambler. I almost always break even or lose money during my time in Vegas, and that’s usually plus or minus 20 bucks. Needless to say, I’m not familiar with the rush to take a big chance and win big in return.

The need for the rush is here in Craig. I’ve heard people talk about it. I know I overheard someone say they won money on the Jackson acquittal.

I’m not saying the friendly game of cards or a vacation to Vegas is bad. Gambling can be fun.

But seriously, I think if you bet on whether or not the United States will host the 2012 Olympics or if Howard Stern will leave his current job to join another, you need to seek another form of entertainment.

The president of one of the sites was quoted in an e-mail saying, “Wagering on the outcome for everything always makes it more interesting.”

I understand his quote. I mean eating a handful of worms isn’t as much fun unless you’re getting $25 for it from friends.

But if the only way to make sports interesting is to bet on it, my suggestion is that you watch a combination of PBS, the Bresnan Public Access Channel and the Weather Channel for a week. Then go back to watching sports. I’m no psychologist, but I would bet that ESPN will look a lot more exciting after that.

There I go, now I’m starting to wager on everyday happenings. What’s the over/under on you reading to the end of this column? It gets shorter by the column inch. I’ll bet you this is my last sentence.

Ha, ha I win.

Dang, I lost. I told you I wasn’t a good gambler.

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