I don't go here, but it's been amazing to see the proliferation of this on all the online books, some with huge sections dedicated to it.
I cleaned up on Bush in the last election, and will place small futures bets on contestants on Survivor and The Apprentice. Can you picture someone layin down big bucks on the Westminster Dog Show, and nervously pacing around the TV as the action winds to a halt?
http://www.cleveland.com/search/index.s ... oth&coll=2
Betting on celebrity news grows online
Friday, February 10, 2006
Newhouse News Service
Her gamble against a 2005 Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes marriage won her $200. But when she bet on a baby boy for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, she wasn't so lucky.
They had a girl.
"I was wrong there," said Melissa Conner of Montclair, N.J. "I lost about $25."
Conner placed her bets on SportsInteraction.com, one of several Internet gambling sites where players are wagering on celebrities' personal lives.
"I think it's a continuation of North American society becoming more celebrity-obsessed," said Calvin Ayres of Bodog.com, which also takes bets on celebs. "It's almost a method of becoming a participant in the celebrity's life."
On Bodog last month, gamblers could bet on whether "American Idol's" Simon Cowell and his wife, Terri Seymour, would break up (an overwhelming majority bet yes) or whether promoter Brian Quintana would win his lawsuit against Paris Hilton (most bet no).
Betting on stars has been around almost as long as Internet gambling, which started a decade ago and is now a booming business, despite the fact that it's illegal to base the sites in the United States. (They are run from outside the country.)
One thing can explain the growing popularity of celebrity betting, say those who run the sites: a banner year for A-list breakups, such as the Nick Lachey/Jessica Simpson split and the Brad-Angelina-Vince-Jen quadrangle.
"You had a lot of high-profile stuff going on," says Anthony Munnelly, spokesman for Sportsinteraction.com, which is based in Canada.
Another reason might be that more women are gambling online. According to Munnelly, since the site added poker and other casino games two years ago, more women began logging on, and they might be more inclined to bet on the celebrity "props" (propositions) of the day, which site employees formulate.
Conner, who bets an average of $20 once a week, doesn't play other gambling games online. But the prospect of profiting from her addiction to celebrity gossip was too hard to resist.
"I'm always reading US Weekly and People," she says. "I figured it can transfer into some cash." So far, she says she has won a few hundred dollars.
In addition to betting on entertainment figures and awards shows, the sites take bets on political events and business news.
On Bodog.com, you can bet on whether Google stock will split by April 30.
On VIPsports.com, you can wager on the breed most likely to win the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
At BetCris.com, 40 percent of sports betters are wagering on celebrities, the site claims. But games like these still account for only a small percentage of Internet gambling, experts say.
According to Munnelly of SportsInteraction, no more than 20-something percent of all the gambling on the site is based on entertainment or politics.
Don't expect casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City to cash in on the trend, said Bill Thompson, a Las Vegas professor who wrote an encyclopedia called Gambling in America.
"It's not going to replace what they're doing," he said.
There are good reasons why real-life casinos don't take bets on, say, the longevity of the Britney Spears/Kevin Federline marriage or model Kate Moss' rehab prospects.
"It could be rigged," Thompson said.
If bets were placed on Spears, for instance, Britney herself could profit by enlisting someone else to bet her money, then file for divorce and cash in, he said.
At Sportsbook.com in December, the site had to shut down betting on who would be named Time Magazine's Person of the Year because employees of Time Warner were reportedly using inside knowledge to place bets.
At Bodog a few years ago, CBS employees were caught betting on the outcome of the network's show "Survivor," Ayres said.
But that kind of cheating is uncommon, he said.
"We're more sophisticated now at identifying abnormal betting patterns," he said.
If many accounts are opening at the same time, and the bettors aren't gambling on anything else, it could be a sign they have insider knowledge, he said.
And even online, there are some celebrity issues that aren't open to "props."
You can't bet on the fluctuating weight of Oprah Winfrey, for instance.
"You'd need to definitively establish what the weight is," Munnelly says. "She'd have to sign something that would say 'Yes, I weigh so and so pounds,' and we'd never be able to offer her enough money to do that."