April 14, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – America’s Internet betting double standard is getting harder to ignore: Now Philly.com, the official website of one of the largest and most respected newspapers in the U.S., the Philadephia Inquirer, has announced that it will offer online betting services via fantasy sports games.

It’s well known that the newspaper industry in the U.S. is suffering and desperate for additional revenue as it faces disastrous competition from the Internet. (Free classified ad sites like Craigslist.org have done most of the damage to newspapers’ bottom lines, but there are other factors.) So it may seem like a logical step for newspapers’ online sports section to offer betting on fantasy sports. Hey, ESPN does it, after all.

But what this does is highlight the double standard in the U.S. that allows some form of online gambling but not others. Internet poker is basically illegal in the United States — especially if the UIGEA is implemented on June 1, as it looks like it will be — yet fantasy sports betting on the Internet is widespread and considered by most to be perfectly fine.

“While Congress effectively banned many forms of online gambling in 2006, when it passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, that law exempts fantasy sports games,” writes Wendy Davis at MediaPost.com.

(It’s believed that the NFL, for example, lobbies against the legalization of Internet poker and other forms of online gambling to avoid competition to its own lucrative sports betting services, many of which are offered over the Internet.) 

Philly.com will be partnering with a U.K. company to offer the new service, according to Davis’ article. “Reportedly, users will be able to place bets for $5 and can win up to $90 per game,” she writes. This marks the first time that a U.S. newspaper has officially ventured into the online gambling business, she adds.

“Though Google CEO Eric Schmidt and seemingly everyone else is telling publishers they should place some bets on potential new business models, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s new venture may not be exactly what they had in mind,” quips CNET’s Greg Sandoval.

“We’re trying to serve two goals,” Yoni Greenbaum, vice president of product development at Philly.com, is quoted in Sandoval’s article. “Those are content differentiation and revenue. If you’re looking at the sports sites out there, a lot of them have the same stuff … The challenge that this creates is we need to offer more. In this day and age, sports fans have insatiable appetites.”


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