Walking the US legal tightrope

The new Los Gatos, California-based betting website Bet Against Me.com seems to be walking a US legal tightrope with a mix of betting exchange and the "private club" concept favoured by several American online poker sites like WPT Club recently.

The free site encourages players to bet against each other in order to legally win large cash prizes, a company spokesman said this week.

"For years now, [US] sports fans have been turned away from online sports betting due to legal issues, security concerns and the danger of losing money," a statement from the company claimed. "With the launch of Bet Against Me.com, this will all change."

The new sports betting site allows bettors to win large cash prizes without risking a cent of their own money - circumventing US sportsbetting bans. Players create a new account at the website, receiving $10 000 of fictional play money in their account at the beginning of each week. Throughout the week that follows, players attempt to increase their bankroll by betting against the spread on real sports events. Depending on the season, sports will include football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

At the end of the week the player who has accumulated the most fictional play money in their account by winning against the spread on their bets will receive the weekly prize money in real cash. Rather than playing against the house, players compete against the other players.

There will also be opportunities for daily and grand prizes. The Bet Against Me.com social network page allows users to add friends, and see what other players are betting on.

"Since there's no house to pay, there's no juice to spread around and no fees to be paid. Everything is 100 percent free and legal in the US!" the company claims, begging the question, what's in it for Bet Against Me.com? Presumably building community traffic and attracting advertising revenues?

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