Y2K Disaster? You Can Bet on It

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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 05:23:05 -0700 (PDT)


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Y2K Disaster? You Can Bet on It

by Leander Kahney

With less than 100 days to go before the fateful date, an offshore sports book has opened a line of bets on various Y2K-related disasters.

Costa Rica-based NASA International is taking online wagers on events ranging from the likelihood of a major stock market crash to aliens landing in the nation's capital in the new millennium.

Read ongoing: "http://www.wired.com/news/news/ytwok/" Y2K Coverage

"It's really simple," said Greg Champion, NASA's CEO. "If it's of interest, we'll open a line on it. There are odds on everything."

The list of wagers and their respective odds are available on the company's online sports book in the Betting Lines section. They include:

Bank Failures: 1,000-1 that a Y2K glitch will shut down the Federal Reserve for 24 hours or more; and 700-1 that Citibank, Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp, USB, or the Dresdner Bank will close for 24 hours or more due to a Y2K glitch.

Utility Meltdowns: 20-1 that a major US utility (serving more than 200,000 customers) or a European telephone company will shut down for 48 hours or more.

Downed airliner: 300-1 that a Y2K failure will down a commercial airliner.

Stock Market crash: 30-1 that a Y2K event will cause the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop more than 200 points on the first day of trading after the millennium.

Firearm stockpiling: 200-1 that more firearms are sold in the US in December 1999 than December 1998.

Armageddeon: 1,000,000-1 that the world will end on 1 January 2000.

Alien landing: 100,000-1 that aliens will land in Washington on 1 January 2000.

The company, which also operates Cabaret Casino (a girls and gaming site), Rock Island Sports, and a sports book in San Pedro, California employing more than 300 people, is also considering taking bets on a Y2K-inspired mass suicide or shooting rampage, and the triggering of a global recession.

In addition to Y2K bets, the online sports book is offering odds on a variety of subjects, including the outcome of the Microsoft antitrust trial, and whether Ricky Martin will announce he's gay.

"NASA wants to be the Lloyds of London of the wagering industry," Champion declared. "If you want to insure your legs, you go to Lloyds to do it because that's the only place to do it. If anyone has a proposition they think is interesting, we'll do it because we're the only ones who'll do it."

"Unfortunately, as morbid as some of them sound," Champion added. "There's a number that has got to be right."

Although online gambling is technically illegal under the Federal Wire Act, there are no penalties for the bettor, only the bookie, said John Sheck, vice president of government affairs at the American Gaming Association.

"If I'm betting in my living room, the feds aren't going to break down my door and drag me away," he said.

"It's OK in the office to bet on who President Clinton is sleeping with," noted Pat Martin, director of external communications at Harrahs, which operates a chain of casinos. "But as an industry, we're not allowed to do that."

As far as Champion is concerned, American citizens place online bets at their own risk; and many do.

Champion urged potential customers to check the legality of betting online in their respective states. He said enforcement varies greatly from state to state but, in general, anti-online gambling statutes are difficult to enforce.

"It's a very gray area," he said, "The laws are 100 percent unenforceable."

Nonetheless, the company has posted a warning to Indiana residents on its Web site at the request of the state's Governor.

"We're licensed in Costa Rica, the UK and Russia," Champion added. "As far as we're concerned, we're licensed and legal in the countries we do business in."

(If you are cynically impared, read no further) While it's illegal to gamble on most anything in the United States, in Britain it's legal to put a wager on anything a bookie will accept.

And while most bookies tend to shy away from taking bets involving death and disaster -- "We're quite ethical in the way we offer bets," said Ed Nicholson, a William Hill are doing a brisk trade in Y2K-related bets, most of them bizarre in nature

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), September 29, 1999


Cherri, not to burst your bubble, but this has already been reported on on a thread called "The betting line on Y2K," dated September 27. Go to "New Answers" and you'll find it there.

-- all best are off (allbestareoff@allbestsareofff.xcom), September 29, 1999.

Sorry if it's been mentioned on the other thread, but...

Armageddeon: 1,000,000-1 that the world will end on 1 January 2000.

How, exactly would one collect their winnings on that bet?

-- semper paratus (llmcl@usa.net), September 29, 1999.

Armageddeon 1,000,000 to 1!!!!

That's 16 times better than the Texas lottery! Hell, I'm in! Might be the only way I'll die rich. :

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), September 29, 1999.

20-1 that a major US utility (serving more than 200,000 customers) *OR* a European telephone company will shut down for 48 hours or more?????

I smell easy money here. I've got a couple Gold Eagles that ain't doin' nothin'.....

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), September 29, 1999.

That's a joke! Wagering on Armageddon! HA! You won't be around to collect!

-- ~~~ (~~~@~~~.com), September 29, 1999.

Well, DANG!

I never thought of that. Guess there had to be a catch, it was just tooooooo easy.

(I was only gonna to risk a couple a' dollars, anyway; ma ain't give me my allowance this month yet)

-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), September 29, 1999.

How does it go..? Oh yea "A fool and his money are soon parted" Waahoo pardner!

-- Michael (mikeymac@uswest.net), September 30, 1999.

Betting Agencies are in the business to make money.......just like when they set the odds for a football game and do a lot of research, the same will be true about their Y2K betting.

It ought to be an eye-opener to some of the super-doomers here that the odds are so slim for the events that some are CONVINCED absolutely must happen.

Anyway, here's a chance to put your money where your mouth is.....

Perhaps the utility company and the Dow dropping 200 points are *SURE* bets......go for it!

As for me, I'll take the sure thing....Buffalo Bills to win the Super Bowl.

-- Craig (craig@ccinet.ab.ca), September 30, 1999.

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