Feds Investigating Facebook Betting

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A sequel to the Second Life community sites saga Computerworld reports that the latest trend - toward community websites like Facebook - is on the FBI's radar for possible online betting violations. Apparently March Madness office pools on social networks have caught the attention of the FBI. "There could be a violation if there's a payout and if the operators take a cut," an FBI spokesman said. In a statement, Facebook said that it "does not condone the use of the site for any unlawful purposes, and users must agree as part of the terms of use not to conduct illegal activity." The company declined further comment manoeuvred earlier this year to make it easier for Facebook users to become involved in betting pools for the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament, which gets under way this week. In early February, unveiled an application that allows Facebook users to fill out brackets for the tournament and compare their picks with those of their friends on the site. The new Tournament Brackets application provides Facebook users with access to tournament coverage from CBS Sports, and, in addition to letting them fill out and manage brackets on Facebook. The site also includes links to the March Madness on Demand service for live streaming video coverage. Promoting online gambling was "not our intent with the application," Leslie Anne Wade, a senior vice president at CBS, said. "These are new issues that are going to require new thought processes and new answers. [CBS will] look at it." Sean Aune, a blogger, noted that while law enforcement agencies don't generally target office pools, "bringing [pools] to a site such as Facebook is just a little too open and too easy to detect to ignore. It seems there are over 20 000 Facebook groups involved with some form of bracket betting, but not all are involved with cash gambling." But, Aune also noted, "with an estimated 48 percent of the population involved in some form of pool for March Madness, you can understand how even the authorities might have to endure some measure of illicit gambling on the Web - whether via social networks or otherwise."

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