Online gambling booms as laws try to catch up

10 July 2006

Newspaper

By Todd Milbourn — Bee Staff Writer
Sacramento Bee
Published 12:01 am PDT Sunday, July 9, 2006

Sonny Mohammadzadeh approaches online poker with scholarly seriousness.

The UC Davis graduate student and mathematician doesn’t play when he’s tired or upset. He seeks out sites with weaker players. And he keeps meticulous records so he can improve his game and track his winnings.

Mohammadzadeh executes his system from a laptop computer in a cluttered off-campus house adorned with Pink Floyd posters. The 23-year-old has turned an online time-waster into, basically, a part-time job that’s helping him through college.

He figures it pays about $20 an hour.

“Sometimes you’re running good, sometimes you’re running bad,” said Mohammadzadeh on a recent afternoon, as he navigated through one site, wagering against opponents with screen names like “The Broozo” and “fish999.”

“But if you make the correct decisions with the cards you’re dealt, things will fall into place,” he said, before heading off to class.

Mohammadzadeh might be betting online alone in his room, but he has plenty of company.

An estimated 23 million gamblers around the world are logging on to online betting sites, wagering real money on everything from casino games to the World Cup or how long Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will stay married.

The industry, which topped $12 billion in revenue last year, is growing so fast that the law is struggling to keep up.

More than a decade after the first online casino opened, legislators around the world are still trying to figure out how to regulate an industry that pays little respect to international borders.

But election-year politics in the United States have placed online gambling at the top of the political deck.

Stopping online gambling is one of the 10 items listed, alongside tax cuts and a flag burning amendment, on the “American Values Agenda” Republicans rolled out earlier this year.

“Internet gambling is the most dangerous form of gambling ever created,” said David Robertson, president of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, one of several powerful lobbying groups backing the conservative agenda. “It’s like putting a virtual casino in everyone’s home.”

It might be too late to corral Internet gambling.

ORE (Read the complete article at The Sacramento Bee / sacbee.com)

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