Rolling the dice…;br; ;FONT COLOR=quot;#c0c0c0quot;;the Internet way;/FONT;

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 27, 2000

Fifteen years ago, when the Apple IIE was the rage among computers of the day, it was nothing more than a glorified video game to most school children.

Monday, November 27, 2000

Fifteen years ago, when the Apple IIE was the rage among computers of the day, it was nothing more than a glorified video game to most school children.

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Fast forward 15 years to today, and computers are still used as a form of entertainment, with a broader range of video games available for PC’s than for a Sony PlayStation. And with the advent of the Internet, a person can be entertained endlessly with a mouse and a monitor.

On-line gaming involves more than just sports betting and cyber-casinos. Though there are more sites that offer on-line gambling than you could surf through in a lifetime, there are also sites that offer interactive games such as on-line trivia challenges and fantasy sports leagues.

For example, provides fantasy games for football, baseball, basketball, hockey and auto racing. Unlike some sites, though, Sandbox provides all these services for free, so when Randy Moss catches a touchdown pass, the points are posted for your fantasy team on-line almost as fast as they’re posted at the Metrodome.

Fantasy sports has become a huge business and the Internet has pushed it to another level. Most sites are going the way of Sandbox and providing their services free of charge. You simply log on to the site and go through a four-or five-step registration process, pick a team name and instantly become the general manager of your own football franchise.

Sites like Sandbox and will place you in a league with nine other players or allow you to form a league with your friends.

Most sites offer cash prizes of some sort, ranging from $50 for league winners on to $1 million on for anyone who can correctly pick the football player at each position who will score the most points on that particular Sunday. These sites are among the most popular – Sandbox has more than 100,000 people playing its fantasy football game – mainly because they don’t charge a fee.

Playing rules vary from site to site when it comes to fantasy sports, so it’s wise to read the instructions thoroughly before playing. Some sites also require players to be 18 years or older, depending upon what prizes are being awarded.

If sports isn’t your thing, there are countless other ways to stay entertained online.

In addition to its variety of fantasy sports games, also offers trivia challenges and a simulated stock market game.

If the stock market is your thing, the online site offers a simulated stock market game in which you "buy shares" of IBM, Disney, or whatever you think is hot. How you manage your portfolio is compared to how other on-line players manage theirs and prizes are awarded quarterly.

If you enjoy the thrills of playing the stock market and the challenge of fantasy sports, then Sandbox’s "Wall Street Sports" is worth a look. In the game, you are given an allowance and must by shares of your favorite athletes or teams. Your portfolio fluctuates depending on how that particular team or athlete performs.

If you prefer to gamble and don’t want to venture to a casino, there are ways to wager on-line, but be cautious. Most on-line betting sites are based outside the United States, but because the transaction is recorded in a different country the sites maintain they are legal. Make sure you find out where the company is based before handing over credit card information or bank account numbers.

In July, a web site called agreed to pay $1.3 million in damages to the state of California and the California Council on Problem Gambling, for collecting wagering information from its headquarters in the state. streams video and audio of horse races to its customers.

It’s also a good idea to keep up-to-date on federal law, as the federal government has chimed in on Internet gambling. In July, the House of Representatives refused to pass a bill that would have outlawed all wagering on the Internet on sporting events and casino games, and would have also prohibited the sale of lottery tickets online.

A majority of representatives voted in favor of the bill, yet they failed to get two-thirds of the vote, the amount required to pass the bill. Those in favor of the bill spoke out aggressively against continuing to allow people to gamble from wherever they could connect a computer.

"One way to promote the Internet is to make sure that the seamy side of life is dealt with on the Internet," said Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va. "Just like child pornography has to be dealt with, so does unregulated, out-of-control gambling."