Oddsmakers Taking Bets on Y2K

Online bettors given million-to-1 odds at world coming to end because of Y2K

If you really think there will be a run on the banks, the stock market will crash and the world will come to an end because of Y2K, you can bet on it over the Internet. The Costa Rica-based NASA Sportsbook, an online betting operation, is now taking wagers on a series of Y2K related events according to the Los Angeles Times.

The biggest and kookiest longshot is a million-to-1 bet that the world will come to an end Jan. 1. So far, about 150 bets have been made on the proposition says a company official. The truly daring can jump on a million-to-1 bet that an alien from outer space will land at the White House on Jan. 1.

For 1,000-to-1 odds, you can bet that the Federal Reserve Bank will be forced to close for 24 hours because of a Y2K computer malfunction. For slightly lower odds--700 to 1--you can bet that the millennium bug will shut down Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, Citibank, UBS bank or Dresdner Bank for 24 hours.

A company official admits to the Times that there has not been very much interest in the bets. The company has received no more than $4,000 total in these millennium bets, with few individual bets going beyond $5. But according to the Times, the same official is surprised that they have received any bets at all.

There's even one millennium bet with minus-200-to-1 odds (that is, a $200 bet wins $1) that there will be an increase in the sales of pistols and shotguns in the U.S. in December, compared with last December.

Not all the bets are total longshots. There are 5-to-1 odds that the Dow Jones industrial average will drop by 200 the Monday after New Year's--a definite possibility given the usual gyrations of the stock market.

Online gambling is illegal in the United States under the Federal Wire Act, but companies, such as NASA Sportsbook, have managed to get around the law by opening their virtual casinos overseas according to the Times.

Source: Los Angeles Times

DATE: 10/6/99

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