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But today New York state has made it easy — you can place a horse racing bet at a neighborhood OTB. Don’t want to go or don’t have the time to go? No problem, they make it easy for you by opening a telephone account so you place that bet in the convenience of your living room and watch the race on cable TV.

But high tech and the Internet have done it again with online gambling. You no longer have to go to Atlantic City, Las Vegas or the Foxwoods casinos (though it would be more fun). You could instead easily lose your shirt in your house or apartment in Astoria, Flushing, Jamaica, Bayside or Whitestone.

Congressional members and federal prosecutors are dead set against this form of gambling, but this is another case where you can expect the house (off-shore casinos) to come out the eventual winner.

The Senate has a pending bill that easily passed the House last year. Congress’ concern is that such wagers should not be made through credit card companies or banks and that U.S. residents should be restricted from such wagers.

Look for a Senate decision on this by summer. But the meat of online betting comes from off-shore locations such as Antigua and Costa Rica. So could this be a form of sour grapes from the United States? The World Trade Organization thinks so in its favorable ruling to Antigua, saying the U.S. prohibition constitutes an unfair trade barrier.

Our government’s position is to avert excessive problem gambling, which can lead to divorce, bankruptcy and suicide. What is claimed as being another strong future hazard is the birth of a new generation of college campus gambling. But the U.S. position does appear to cut with two edges.

With gambling such a danger, why do we allow OTB, telephone betting, lotteries and casinos with proposals for the Catskills and our very own Queens location of Rockaway?

So how’s business for online gambling? It may take a bit of time, but you don’t have to be a betting person to see off-shore casinos overcoming this struggle. After all, the house almost always wins.

Joe Palumbo is the fund manager of The Palco Group Inc., an investment company, and can be reached at palcogroup@aol.com or 718-461-8317.

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