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Euro 2000: online gambling companies must think it is Christmas.

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Betting site Betfair.com, which timed its launch to coincide with Euro 2000, got off to a better start than England.

The site hosts person to person bets. Yesterday just under 400 wagers were placed on the England-Portugal game totalling £16,000.

Mark Davies, a spokesman for Betfair, said he was pleased with the day's trading, especially since he put a bet on Portugal to win.

"You could get much wider odds on Portugal on our site than anywhere else," he said. "I think people were reluctant to bet against England as it would mean cheering against their team during the game. The result of that of course is that the odds on England were extremely tight."

The site is one of a new breed that allows person to person betting. This means that punters can choose their odds and stakes on either side of the market, either backing or laying bets. Funds must be deposited before any bets can be made. The site uses software similar to that used in the New York Stock exchange to automatically match bets and settle them once the result is known.

The increased popularity of online gambling is being attributed to a wide range of sources from the National Lottery, to the rise of televised sports. The internet also enables those who would not normally be at home in a betting shop to place bets with relative ease. Another factor is the lower taxes online. Another factor is lower tax on bets online. Internet sites have had to pay this tax themselves to compete with sites based in countries with little or no betting tax.®

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