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Australian Net Casino Gambling Ban Takes Effect Friday

21 December 2000

A twelve-month ban targeting certain Australian Internet-based gambling operations will take effect on Friday, although the moratorium has a wide range of exemptions and there are no plans to block overseas sites just yet.

The Interactive Gambling Moratorium Bill has been passed and will last until May next year while the Government looks at the effects of an indefinite ban and ways to block Internet gambling sites from reaching Australian Internet users.

From Friday it will be an offence to provide a new commercial interactive gambling service in Australia.

But this does not include any services set up before May 19, 2000, any new or existing online sites that offer betting on horse races, greyhound races, and sporting events, or online share trading, considered by some critics of the bill as no different from any other form of gambling.

The ban has been instituted by Australian Communications and IT Minister Richard Alston on a belief that Internet-based casinos could make gambling even more attractive to Australians than it already is.

Australia is acknowledged to be home to a large number of gamblers due to widespread casinos and pokies (poker machine) pubs. But these will remain unaffected by the legislation.

Internet industry groups and the developing Net casino industry have criticized the thrust of the bill, pointing out detrimental effects on consumers as an absence of local operations forces Australians to unlicensed offshore operations with fewer consumer safeguards.

Reported by Newsbytes, www.newsbytes.com.

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