World could have Australian Net gambling laws – but not us

With the state of Nevada recently passing a pro-Internet gambling bill and home-grown experts heading to the US to help draft legislation, local online gaming proponents claim the Australian Government may find regulatory models it rejected accepted in almost every developed country but its own.

The Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee last Monday approved a bill that could allow Las Vegas casinos to open Internet casinos within 18 months. The bill, which must now be approved by the US Federal Government, would impose a $US1 million ($2 million) license fee and $US100,000 application fee on Internet casinos. The Web sites would also have to pay State gaming tax of 6.25 per cent on winnings.

Las Vegas Assemblywoman Ms Merle Berman said she introduced the bill because she wants Nevada to be the first State to offer legal Internet gaming, just as it was the first American State to legalise gaming in 1931. Ms Berman said the Internet could bring $US5 billion in additional revenue to Nevada casinos.

Mr Steve Toneguzzo, managing director of the consultancy Global Gaming Services, left last week for the US to answer questions from Nevada regulators on how best to legislate for Internet gaming.

“Australia’s Internet gaming regulatory models have been recognised as world’s best practice and most first world countries are now looking at adopting them,” according to Mr Toneguzzo, who also chairs the Internet Industry Association’s online gambling taskforce.

“It’s an absurd outcome: the fact that so many countries look like ending up with Australian regulation except Australia.”

Mr Toneguzzo said South Africa, as well as several European countries, were examining Internet gaming regulatory models developed by States around Australia.

An investment conference this month in Cape Town was told South Africa could earn more than $US140 million in foreign exchange dollars within two years from Internet gambling.