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Online Olympic Betting Comes from 159 Countries

[London, ENGLAND] Internet bookmaker William Hill said Thursday it has taken bets on the Olympic Games from 159 different countries.

And yes, says the U.K. bookmaker, it has even received bets -- two of them -- from Equatorial Guinea, home of lone swimmer Eric Moussambani who surprised viewers by completing his first-ever 100-metre swim during the Olympic competition, albeit a bit slowly.

Bets have arrived at William Hill from countries as far apart alphabetically as Argentina and Zimbabwe, with nearly every letter represented in-between. They include Belgium; Chile; Djibouti; Eritrea; France; Guam; Haiti; Iran; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Lebanon; Malawi; Netherlands; Oman; Palestine; Qatar; Rwanda; Seychelles; Tajikistan; Uganda; Vietnam; Western Samoa; and Yemen.

As for the letter "X," William Hill gets around it by referring to plenty of betting by "X-patriates from many countries."

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe commented it was remarkable to be taking bets from people in almost as many countries as are competing in the Games.

"For the first time punters worldwide have access to Olympic betting via the Internet, and we anticipate that there will be a record turnover as a result," said Sharpe.

If betting is easy, checking the results in detail online is not. Many observers have criticized the poor official coverage of the Olympic Games on the Internet. For the Olympic movement, at least, newspapers and television remain the dominant media.

Internet coverage of the Olympic Games varies from country to country, with information providers presenting results tailored to their respective readerships.

For British Internet users, two of the best sites are proving to be BBC Olympics 2000 and Times-Olympics from The Times newspaper.

Britons wishing to bet against their own runners can get odds of 7/2 that Great Britain will draw a Gold medal blank in track and field. Optimists can get 100/1 that GB will win six golds in those events.

Shorter odds are on Olympic hero Steve Redgrave, who stands at 2/5 to win his fifth gold in his fifth Olympics, this time in the coxless fours.

William Hill did not say whether the two punters from Equatorial Guinea had placed bets on Eric Moussambani actually winning the 100 metres freestyle -- or, if so, what odds they were given.



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