11/13/2002 12:00AM

Youbet acts to reassure bettors

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Youbet.com has placed the deposits of all of its account-holders into a trust managed by a large commercial bank, according to Charles Champion, the chief executive of Youbet, in a move designed to alleviate concerns about the vulnerability of the deposits if Youbet continues to struggle financially.

Comerica, a banking company based in Detroit, will manage the trust, Champion said. Technically, customers of Youbet.com will own the trust, Champion said, and Youbet will be unable to use the money for any financial purposes.

"It's absolutely the safest device in the U.S. to secure our customers' money," Champion said.

Gary Sproule, Youbet's chief financial officer, said that Youbet has never used customer deposits as a form of cash to fund ongoing operations.

Youbet, which operates a leading account-wagering service through its Internet site, has never shown a profit and has lost $85 million over the past four years.