Costa Rican online sports book, 5Dimes.com, much to the chagrin of locals in the Tampa Bay area, will be taking bets on the opening High School football season.
"Wagering on sporting events involving children is common," the owner of 5Dimes.com told The St. Petersburg Times. "In Europe, he said, people wager on soccer matches featuring children younger than 16."
The hot ticket this coming weekend: Armwood at Plant, a game that promises to be a smorgasbord of Division I prospects broadcast live on national television. It will also be available to millions of viewers on ESPNU.
5Dimes took flack last year for offering betting on another nationally syndicated High School football game last year: Southlake Carroll (Texas) and Miami Northwestern. They reacted by removing the line.
Still, betting on High School football games is nothing new.
Pasco High athletic director Jim Ward recalls people in Dade City talking about wagering on the Pasco-Hernando football rivalry game in 1991 when the crowd swelled to more than 8,000 to see Class 3A top-10 teams square off.
"Rumors had it back in the early '90s there was betting," Ward told the Times. "... I always heard the guys talking about, 'I got $100 on this,' and stuff like that."
In recent years, online gambling establishments have delved into offering bets on the Little League World Series. Just a few weeks ago, some gambling sites were even offering bets on the Chinese Women's Gymnastics squad - who were supposedly over the age of 16 but were rumored to be much younger.
The Republican platform last week ensured that online gambling prohibition would be a major focus of its agenda despite attempts to see that the issue be removed. Diehards in the party have cited the "ability of minors to gamble with ease", something that has proven time and time again to be inaccurate thanks to successful blocking technologies implemented over the years.
Republican candidate John McCain has tried to stop gambling on college sports out of fear that the young players would be more inclined to assist in "fixing games" for big money offers from gambling syndicates. The problem is known to occur in professional sports worldwide - most recently in the NBA and tennis. High School players - though presumably still living at home - are no less likely to be influenced by unscrupulous syndicates, it can be argued.
Predictions for the game were available at The Tampa Bay Blogs:
Robinson coach Mike DePue: Armwood 24-21. "If Armwood keeps Plant off the field, they can win. But if their offense can't stay on the field for sustained drives, Plant wins."
Tampa Bay Tech coach C.C. Culpepper: Plant 28-17. "What I saw Plant do against Northeast in the passing game, I think they'll be able to do against Armwood,"
Blake coach Sean Washington: Armwood 28-27. "Plant has improved since the first game. It's hard to beat teams twice, but I'm going to go with Armwood because they're playing at home."
Durant coach Mike Gottman: Armwood 35-31: "Armwood played them early on and played very well defensively. Armwood's defense has always been extremely tough to handle and Plant found that out."
Dan Shapiro, Gambling911.com