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Aussies Bet on Roach Races

19 January 2004

CANBERRA, Australia – As reported by Reuters: "Gambling-mad Australians, teased for willingly betting on two flies crawling up a wall, have expanded their horizons -- now they're placing bets on cockroaches.

"A record crowd of more than 7,000 betters is expected to attend the 23rd annual Cockroach Races in the east coast city of Brisbane Jan. 26, Australia's national day, with some bringing their own runners and others buying competitors there.

"…Australians have the highest rate of gambling in the world, a passion dating back to when the first convict settlers, shipped out from Britain in 1788, reportedly bet on cards and dice.

"…Last year's winner, Osama bin Liner, was lovingly reared by his owners who turned up on the day in full beards and headwear, dressed as the world's most wanted man. Other past winners include Drain Lover, whose name plays on that of two-time Melbourne Cup winner Rain Lover, Millennium Bug and Guns'n Roaches, whose contestants modeled themselves on the rock band Gun'N Roses, carrying their roaches in boxes shaped like tiny guitars.

"…The races are held on a circular track with the cockroaches released from an upturned bucket in the middle. First to the edge is the winner. The steeplechase event is a bit trickier with the runner having to navigate a circular fence -- well, a garden hose -- to get to the edge…"

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