The Australian government today voted to ban Australian-based online gambling sites from offering their services to Australians. The ban also makes it illegal for Australian casinos to provide gambling services to other countries opposed to Internet gambling.

The Senate also voted 33-28 to exclude sports betting and lotteries from the interactive gambling ban, following last minute changes to the proposed legislation. Australian sports books and turf clubs were concerned that the ban would drastically affect their businesses.

According to Communications Minister Richard Alston, the gambling ban takes the necessary action to limit what the government called the tragic economic and social consequences of gambling in Australia.

Senators who voted for the final bill were pleased that the legislation limits overseas access to Australian gambling sites. Senator Bob Brown noted, “What’s bad for Australian households is bad for households elsewhere around the world.”

Australia has been grappling with the issue of problem gambling for years, but opponents of the bill argue that poker- and pull-tab machines in pubs are the real cause of the nation’s gambling problem. They also insist that the bill will not do anything to address the issue.

Opponents to the legislation have argued that the bill would be technologically difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Many have suggested that the best solution to the problem is a regulated online gaming environment, but the government refused to waver on its committed to a total ban.

Critics of the ban also noted that Australian gaming companies will likely go offshore to get around the restrictions. Senator Brian Greig argued that “Australian companies could still locate themselves in a country where there was no prohibition, such as Vanuatu, and continue their services into those countries.”

The bill does not prohibit offshore operations from providing their services to Australian citizens.

Microgaming Terminates Tropika License

Microgaming announces that the licence for the operation of the group of casinos owned by Tropika, and notably Fairplay Casino, has been terminated with immediate effect. This termination does not affect Golden Riveira casino. Microgaming is aware that for some time there have been player allegations that pay outs to players have not been made by Tropika casinos.

In the interests of fairness, arrangements have been made for players that have still not had their claims paid by Tropika, or the relevant Tropika casino, by the 5th of July 2001, to put their claims to PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. (Johannesburg) (PwC). PwC will receive Singapore Online Casino player’s complaints with a view to verifying the correctness thereof, and advising of any amounts that should be paid.

This process is entirely under the control of PwC, and Microgaming will not be involved in any way. The funds to be used for such payouts have been placed by Microgaming in a trust and are not under the control or ownership of Microgaming. PwC will advise the trustees of any amounts that should be paid.

All players who believe that they have a valid claim should approach PwC from the 6th of July 2001 at the e-mail address given below. Players should note that a time limit has been placed on the lodgement of such claims, and all claims should be lodged by the 6th of August 2001.

Claims must be addressed to: trustadmin@pwcgaming.co.za. These claims should clearly state the claimant’s full name and login-id as registered at the casinos involved.