Zetters switches foreigners on to pools via Net

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The Independent Online
PUNTERS from the US to Croatia and Taiwan are discovering the joys of British football pools, thanks to a new betting system on the Internet.

Zetters, the London-based pools company, has been offering a full betting service on the Internet's World Wide Web in an attempt to outflank the National Lottery. Anyone with a computer, a modem and a credit card can chew their pencils to decide whether Barnet is likely to get that vital draw with Torquay. They fill in an electronic form, punch in their card number, and wait for an e-mail the following week to tell them if they have won the pounds 1m jackpot.

"There has been quite a lot of interest. We have had entries from all over the world," said Steven Easterman, Zetter's joint managing director.

Because of the increasingly secure measures on the Internet, punters are now happier to put their credit card numbers across the system - payments are then translated between their local currency and sterling by the card company.

Anyone betting on the National Lottery has to be physically in Britain, although shiploads of French people turned up in Dover to buy tickets before the pounds 40m payout a week ago. Pools players, by contrast, are limited only by their local laws - some US states forbid gambling over the phone lines (which would presumably include the Internet). "We tell people they should check their laws," Mr Easterman said. The Zetters site is prominently decorated with signs saying it is "regulated by the British Government".

Mr Easterfield says his company has been less affected by the National Lottery than have the bigger Littlewoods or Vernons. Its revenues are 12 per cent down, compared with their 30 or 40 per cent.

Zetters Word Wide Web page is at http://www.itl.net/cgi-bin/SN/pg?doc=/uk/general/zetters/pools.html&vp=web&uid= uest&extra=none&cs=90b6957d