07/11/2006 11:00PM

Internet vote has bettors hanging


At the end of the day - most any day - sports bettors pretty much know where they stand.

They watch the games or check the scores and know if they have won, lost, or broken even. They know if they're better off than the day before.

Well, for a lot of sports bettors - specifically those in this country who bet on the Internet - Tuesday's most-important score wasn't in baseball's All-Star Game in Pittsburgh but in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

A bill seeking to ban most forms of Internet gambling, proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, and Rep. Jim Leach, a Republican from Iowa, easily passed through the House and will now be sent to the Senate, where Sen. John Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, has been pushing a similar piece of legislation.

The 317-93 vote looks like a blowout and a definite loss, but in reality, online sports bettors were left with more questions than answers. Why would the government shut down a $12 billion industry that is basically out of its jurisdiction? And how would the government go about it? Will any offshore books close up shop and disappear with all the money? Should bettors close their accounts? What will happen with future-book bets such as the World Series or Super Bowl?

With sports betting legal in Nevada, the bill doesn't directly affect the state's sports betting industry. Everyone here is keeping a close eye on the proceedings, though.

For one, a lot of people here do have offshore accounts. For another, the fortunes of Las Vegas are affected by what happens elsewhere. Good publicity for gambling is good for the city's tourism industry in general. Atlantic City and Indian casinos were once seen as potentially dangerous to Nevada tourism, but all they did was create more interest, and just look at what the poker explosion has done to legitimize many aspects of gambling. When gambling is not seen in a good light, Vegas suffers by association.

Since the bill still needs to pass the Senate - and before the end of the legislative session, which runs through Oct. 6 - it doesn't go into effect immediately, so bettors were left in limbo.

It wasn't a clear-cut win or loss. Scratch that - it was a loss, but more like an early regular-season loss that doesn't spell doom.

One thing that Internet gamblers have going for them is that the Senate will recess on Aug. 17 and then return after Labor Day, and this bill might not be high enough of a priority for the Senate to address in the time allotted.

Sports book notes

The American Century Championship, the top celebrity golf tournament in the country, will be held this Friday through Sunday at the Edgewood Golf Club in Lake Tahoe, Nev. Traditionally, the tournament has been held the same weekend as the British Open (and aired after the early live telecast from overseas) but it was moved up a week this year.

Four-time ACC winner Dan Quinn, a former NHL center who played on eight teams (with two stints apiece with the Senators, Flyers and Penguins), is the heavy 6-5 favorite at Caesars Palace here in Vegas. The epicenter of betting on this event used to be at Caesars Tahoe, but parent company Harrah's Entertainment Inc. sold that property last year and it is now known as MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa.

In the Reno/Tahoe area, the odds are available at Harrah's Reno, Harrah's Tahoe, and Harvey's, with the rest of the Harrah's family booking them in the Vegas Valley at Harrah's Las Vegas, Rio, Bally's, Paris, and the Flamingo.

Billy Joe Tolliver, the former NFL quarterback and the ACC's defending champ, is the co-second choice at 5-1 along with former NFL kicker Al Del Greco. The following are all at 8-1: Mario Lemieux, Mark Rypien, Jack Wagner, Chris Chandler, Trent Dilfer and Pierre Larouche.

Other well-known athletes/ celebrities include rehabbing QB's Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer, LaDainian Tomlinson, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen, Mike Schmidt, Lou Holtz, Donald Trump, Stone Phillips, Ray Romano, Dan Quayle, and Charles Barkley.

The Golf Channel will provide coverage Friday from 2-5 p.m. Eastern, and NBC will cover the last two rounds from 4-6 p.m. Eastern on Saturday and 3-6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

* On Saturday night, "Sugar" Shane Mosley and Fernando Vargas will meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a rematch of their Feb. 25 bout, which Mosley won by TKO in the 10th round when Vargas's left eye became swollen shut.

After the bout, Mosley was hoping for a fight with undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr., but when that didn't materialize, he chose to give Vargas a rematch in what should be a big pay-per-view payday and could set up a Mosley-Mayweather blockbuster early next year.

After being a -180 favorite (risk $1.80 for every $1 you want to profit) the first time around, Mosley is a -200 favorite at the MGM Mirage books.

Some books are going with an over/under of 11 1/2 rounds while others are going with 12. The over 11 1/2 is priced at -180, while the over 12 (also referred to as the "will go 12 full rounds") is priced at -160 if you don't mind sweating out the final 90 seconds.

* A lot of the Nextel Cup news this past week has been about Formula One driver Juan Pablo-Montoya joining the circuit next year and the Indy Racing League's Danica Patrick also considering the switch to stock car racing. This upcoming Sunday, hopefully the attention turns to what actually happens on the track. Station Casinos has Tony Stewart as the 7-1 favorite in the Lennox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson are the co-second choices at 8-1 with Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, and Kevin Harvick at 10-1, and Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch at 12-1.