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US Judi Mpo Slot casinos, Ritz bet on beating ban

TWO large US casinos and the Ritz Hotel in London are lining up to take advantage of the new internet gaming regime.

Although the federal Government will seek to ban Australians from gambling on the web this week, overseas companies have not been deterred by the move.

Australian software provider Access Gaming Systems confirmed it had been approached by two top Las Vegas casinos in the past week interested in obtaining Australian internet casino licences.

Also, The Australian understands the Ritz Hotel in London, which runs its own live casino, wants to get a slice of the Australian action.

According to former Queensland gaming regulator Rick Smith, who now runs the Interactive Gaming Council from North America, Australia’s internet gaming laws are turning out to be “enabling legislation”.

“I think at the end of the day, if wagering and Judi Mpo Slot lotteries are excluded from the bill, it might have a minimal impact on the industry,” Mr Smith said.

“In terms of the international market, it could be open slather.”

Tasmania and Norfolk Island stand to be the two biggest beneficiaries from any internet legislation because they have lower tax rates than other states and territories.

The Australian also understands the listed, UK-based wagering firm Sportingbet is interested in setting up in Australia.

Gaming regulators were originally pessimistic about the federal legislation; the ACT said it had lost nine potential internet licensees after the federal Government last year placed a 12-month moratorium on internet casinos.

The turnaround has come as other world jurisdictions move to legalise internet gaming.

South Africa and several countries in Europe, including England, are willing to approve internet gaming.

In the US, the Nevada state legislature has approved the framework for internet gaming, although it must be approved eventually by the Nevada Gaming Commission, which could take more than three years.

Meanwhile, the US Congress will consider a bill banning internet gaming outright later this year.

The industry is expected to be worth $6 billion by 2004, with about 1400 sites operating at present around the world, mainly from the Caribbean.

Australia’s only internet casino site is Lasseter’s in Alice Springs, which turned over about $100 million last year. About 200,000 Australians are believed to bet on the web.

Legislation banning internet gambling is due to go before the Senate in the next two weeks. The Australian Democrats are divided on whether they will support or reject the legislation.

The Government flagged this week that it was prepared to exclude all sports betting in an attempt to have the bill passed.




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