Australia's Jupiter opposes possible Internet gambling ban

Brisbane, Dec 21 (Asia Pulse) - One of Australia's largest on-line gamingoperators has hit back at Prime Minister John Howard's suggestion of a possibleban on Internet gambling. Jupiters Ltd, which operates two casinos and theelectronic game Kenoin Queensland, has called on federal, state and territorygovernments to be "measured in their response" to Howard's call toinvestigate the feasibility of a ban on Internet gambling.

Brisbane, Dec 21 (Asia Pulse) - One of Australia's largest on-line gaming operators has hit back at Prime Minister John Howard's suggestion of a possible ban on Internet gambling. Jupiters Ltd, which operates two casinos and the electronic game Kenoin Queensland, has called on federal, state and territory governments to be "measured in their response" to Howard's call to investigate the feasibility of a ban on Internet gambling.

In November last year Jupiters acquired Alice Springs-based sports betting agency Centrebet which operates on-line and telephone gambling services. "Centrebet's experience is that Internet sports betting is not a source of problem gambling," Jupiters managing director Richard Barnes said today. He urged governments to continue to regulate rather than prohibit what is one of Australia's leading e-commerce opportunities. Howard last week ordered a ministerial council to investigate banning gambling over the Internet after the release of a report on Australia's $11 billion-a-year gambling habits.

Centrebet sports manager Gerard Daffy said, like the rest of the gambling industry, Centrebet recognised that problem gambling was a serious issue. "Governments and the industry are already working closely together to address this issue and we are pleased to be part of that process," Daffy said. He said that to Centrebet's knowledge there had been no instances of problem gambling amongst its client base in the past eight years. "Most of our customers appear to be the type of people who in Australia would go to a TAB once a week for a flutter... they are not large gamblers," he said.

Centrebet has more than 30,000 customer accounts with 70 per cent of business emanating from overseas. Daffy said Centrebet was believed to be Australia's leading e-commerce exporter and Australia was leading the world in the regulation of Internet gambling. "It would be a shame if Australia abrogated its role as the leading country in the regulation of Internet gaming in favor of prohibition," Daffy said. He said banning Internet gambling in Australia would be a backward step as the government would lose the ability to regulate the operators and lose an increasing source of tax-revenues.

Centrebet believes that, far from banning internet gambling, governments should recognise the inevitability of e-commerce as a way of the future and acknowlege the leading position of Australia as a provider of regulated Internet gambling. "Australian operators already adopt world's best practice procedures for dealing with problem gambling, and gambling by minors," Barnes said.

He welcomed Howard's concept of a Ministerial Council and an Expert Advisory Group made up of industry representatives to work with governments to address industry issues.