Online bets off on 'Survivor'

Friday, September 19, 2003

— An offshore bookie who takes wagers on the outcome of CBS' "Survivor" decided not to take bets Thursday, suspicious that someone who knows the winner is spreading inside information.

The reality series, which premiered its seventh edition from Pearl Island on Thursday, has been relatively free of security problems despite an Internet cottage industry in guessing winners and losers.

The Antigua-based company,, has taken bets from as many as 1,000 people for past editions of "Survivor," consistently television's most popular reality game.

The company rarely does any action with "Survivor" before the show gets on the air. Betting usually heats up after the show has been on for at least a month and viewers get to know the characters, said Simon Noble, the company's CEO.

"If we get five bets (before the game), I'd be stunned," Noble said. "Nobody can relate to any of the contestants or develop a strong opinion."

Yet in the past few days, the company took more than 15 bets on the same contestant, all from people who lived near each other in Vancouver, he said. The company shut the game down.

Noble wouldn't identify the contestant they were betting on, but said it was a woman who lives near Vancouver.

The CBS Web site identifies one contestant, Sandra Diaz-Twine, as living in Fort Lewis, Wash. She's a 29-year-old U.S. Army veteran who now works as an office assistant. She's married with two children.

CBS spokesman Chris Ender pointed out that although filming for the "Pearl Island" game is complete, the results are sealed.

"The truth is, only ("Survivor" executive producer) Mark Burnett and a couple of CBS executives know who won," he said. "Certainly, Mr. Burnett doesn't need the money you could win from an offshore bookmaker."