Wednesday, March 10, 1999

Net takes on new meaning in hoops betting




BY PHILLIP PINA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It is NCAA Tournament time again, and it seems nearly everybody is diving into the pool.

        Betting on the annual tourney has become a pastime in itself. There are betting pools among friends at home, among peers at work. And the growth of the Internet has raised the stakes. One Web site will give away $1 million to anyone who correctly predicts all 63 game-winners.

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        Gambling-industry experts expect $55 million to $70 million to be bet in Nevada gambling parlors on the tournament, said Pete Korner, of Las Vegas Sports Consultants. The Super Bowl brings in about $76 million in bets.

        After those two events, “nothing else compares,” he said.

        In Cincinnati, where such gambling halls are illegal, office pools rule. Some play for money; others for fun. Chris Kramer, a tax manager at Deloitte & Touche in downtown Cincinnati, joined two office pools.

        “It makes watching the games more fun,” he said.

        Sally Uchtman is organizing a pool among her Wyoming neighbors. Some watch the games and study statistics. She selects teams with good names.

        “I'll pick Siena because it just rolls off the tongue,” she said. (Arkansas is an 8-point favorite over Siena.)

        Running a pool of about 150 workers and clients at Incigna Inc. in Cincinnati became too labor-intensive. So the company developed a software program to run an office pool, said Tarek Kamil, company president.

        Incigna now offers the program at incigna.com for free. By Tuesday, it had been downloaded 800 times.

        On the Web, Insight.com and the FANSonly Network will pay $1 million to the winner of their pool. The company expects 100,000 people to participate.

        “It's the ultimate office pool,” said Insight's Brian Burch.

       



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