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VOL. 112 | NO. 230 | Wednesday, December 16, 1998

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Winners Internet Network processes online gambling Wanna bet? Online casinos offer fun and games without the hassles By KATHLEEN BURT The Daily News It took a Memphis jury about an hour Monday to sentence 44-year-old Gerald Powers to the electric chair following his conviction for murdering 25-year-old Shannon Sanderson. Prosecutors say Powers watched her have a lucky streak at Sams Town Casino in Tunica. She left the casino with her winnings, was abducted and killed. Testimony given during the trial revealed Sanderson enjoyed visiting the casinos and often carried large amounts of cash. That fateful night, she had parlayed a couple of hundred dollars into $5,000. For those who dont want to risk the drive or have trouble controlling spending once they're inside a gambling hall, the Internet offers a safer alternative. Whether for money or fun, there are hundreds of Internet sites that offer everything from real-time gaming to playing for free. An Internet (or online) casino is a Web site where one or more casino type games, such as blackjack, can be played for real money. Generally, Internet casinos fall into three categories. The first kind are those that require a program to be downloaded for free. These casinos are usually the most fun to play, but the program has to be installed on the hard drive. This translates into a wait for the application to download to a computer. Once installed, these programs typically offer extensive graphics, sound and animation. The second type is a casino that uses JAVA instead of a downloaded program. These JAVA applets run through a Web browser. Some of these casinos offer sound and animation, and all of them offer good graphics. The third kind of Internet casino uses HTML and does not require any download time. Although these casinos do not offer the sound and animation of other online casinos, they boast the best graphics and fast gameplay. To begin playing, online gambling gurus suggest looking at a number of casinos before making any decisions. Pay close attention to the deposit requirements, minimum bets and other rules outlined on a site. There are a variety of Internet casinos out there. Many will let a browser visit for free and even place some bets without signing up. No money is won in these visits, but the play is available. One of the best ways to find a casino that suits individual needs is to take a look at the list at www.wheretobet.com. A majority of Internet casinos are listed with background information. Once a casino is chosen, its time to sign up. Usually, this means filling out an online form. Many will not even require the users name and address. An account number and a password are assigned. For those who sign up this way, those items are the only means of identification. If they are lost or forgotten, any money deposited in the account is lost. Then its time to put money into a casino account. In all cases, money is deposited up front before a user can gamble online. This will mean sending online casinos money via Western Union, Moneygram, cashier's checks, money orders, wire transfers or credit cards. Most online casinos will take money almost any way it's sent. Most will not take personal checks, as they would have to wait up to two weeks for the checks to clear to the overseas location. Nearly all casinos now accept credit card deposits. In fact, these are recommended due to the low cost and speed of the transactions. All casinos operate on the account system in which money is sent and the user's account is credited for that amount. During the gaming, money is credited or debited for wins or loses. When the user wants to withdraw money from the casino account, it can be done in nearly all of the ways that deposits are made. Many operations allow the user to have money withdrawn directly placed back onto the credit card used to open the casino account. This option allows the gamer to access winnings within days. Casinos charge fees for other withdrawal options. Some worry that their money is not secure when deposited in a foreign account, but to date few problem have been reported with casino deposit security or payouts. Many jurisdictions require that the licensee post bonds of cash or insurance as part of the license requirements. For example, the groups licensed in the Caribbean island of Curacao have to post an amount of money equal to the average win in a special account in order to guarantee that they can pay winners. To even get a license, those who apply have to go through some extensive government checks. Personal security (including credit card details and other personal information) is also guaranteed under license agreements in many, if not all, jurisdictions. Most casinos and sportsbooks use secure servers to conduct all transactions and all information about the user is held offline. Many also take out insurance against fraud. Many casinos offer services similar to Winners Internet Network, which began a secure banking feature over the weekend that allows customers to pay in advance to play the games at the sites, said David Skinner, WINR president and chief executive officer. "Gamblers can now proceed to www.winr.net and register with us, make a secure and confidential deposit with WINR and then proceed to transfer monies, securely and confidentially, to an approved gaming site listed on our Web page," Skinner said. WINR allows a player to deposit funds into a protected asset management trust in the European country of Liechtenstein. WINR provides qualified players the choice to leave their funds in the Liechtenstein Trust or have them placed on a debit card issued through WINR. The debit card will allow players to receive their funds at more than 300,000 locations in more than 117 countries worldwide, he said. Through a standardized payout structure, WINR can protect the customer while meeting the gaming laws in the jurisdiction where the gamer is playing. At a moment's notice, WINR can forbid play from any jurisdiction where online gaming is deemed illegal and will work with the jurisdiction governments in that regard, Skinner said. Currently WINR will not accept play from the states of California, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin or the countries of Austria and Japan. Online casinos are fairer than many people realize. The "house" makes the normal profits of gambling. In many of the countries, the computer programs must be submitted to the government for thorough checking of fairness toward the player, and the firm also has to be guaranteed by one of the big eight international accounting firms. In all cases with casino gambling, the odds for single-deck blackjack, for instance, are exactly the same with an Internet casino as with the real thing. The same is true for games like baccarat or roulette. As for the machine-type games such as slots or video poker, the player payout percentages are determined by the casino, many will post the payout percentage online. As the industry expands, who knows what will available, maybe Mah Jong for money? There are already online lotteries with million dollar payouts. Perhaps in the future, online gambling will move away from the traditional casino games and concentrate wagering on the users participation in an arcade-type game. Or sites such as www.harrahs.com could offer more than company news and a look at its facilities. Only time and the marketplace will tell.
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