Lane McBride earned valedictorian honors in high school. He graduated from the University of Utah this spring summa cum laude in psychology. And he makes a living playing cards on the Internet.
The 22-year-old considers poker his job. He says he made $2,000 in April playing about 20 hours a week. Now he plays 40 hours a week. He plans on going to graduate school — and paying for it with his poker winnings.
Except for cocktail waitresses keeping your drink fresh, everything in a Nevada casino and more is available on the Internet. Slots. Dice. Cards. Sports. It's all there. And it has never been easier or more acceptable to gamble online.
You can take on the house in blackjack. You can find a virtual seat at a Texas Hold 'Em table alongside Hollywood celebrities.
You can log on to a poker game with people around the world. You can lay down cash on a big game. You can play children's card games for money. You even could have wagered on the Michael Jackson trial.
All from the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas if you like.
Online games of chance have created a whole new wave of gamblers, even in Utah, where all forms of gambling are against the law. Law enforcement spends virtually no time tracking down individual online bettors.
The federal government maintains Internet gambling is illegal, but the law is fuzzy.
McBride turned to cyberspace because he'd heard police were trying to shut down home poker games. A friend pointed him toward online poker a few years ago, and he downloaded a Web site program. He played for fun at first to hone his skills — and because he wasn't 21.
"When I turned of age, I deposited real money in there to give it a shot," he said. "I figured it was a lot better than having to drive to Wendover if I wanted to play cards."
A new Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll by Dan Jones & Associates finds Utahns apparently aren't much for driving the information highway to gamble.
Only 9 percent have visited a gambling Web site in the past year, according to the survey of 413 residents statewide. Even fewer — a mere 3 percent — admit to placing a bet online.