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AUSSIE TV TARGETS ONLINE GAMBLING
Friday July 1,2011 : Generally negative feature claims that offshore gambling websites break the law by taking in vast sums of money from Australian betters.
The ABC television network took aim at online gambling in Australia in a largely negative program presented by reporter Matt Peacock Thursday.
The program can be viewed here: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2011/s3258053.htm
Peacock started his narrative by claiming that each year, offshore gambling websites break the law by taking in vast sums of money from Australian betters. He presents this as surprising, given that “…the management sites for these online casinos are based here. Critics of the rapidly-growing industry say the companies get away with it because the laws are weak and never enforced.“
Peacock goes on to interview a range of people including players, lawyers and problem gambling researchers to illustrate his argument.
His attempt to interview the management of ITSM, which is specifically identified in the program as a successful enterprise based in Sydney, was unsuccessful.
Professor Sally Gainsbury, a problem gambling researcher told Peacock that between one and four and as much as 30 percent of Australians have gambled online. “But one of the biggest problems is we really don't know enough about internet gambling,” she said.
Lawyer Jamie Nettleton advocated legalisation within Australia of what is a multi-billion dollar industry popular with players. “It is one of the most - the largest - e-commerce businesses worldwide,” he asserted.
Nettleton tried to explain the nuances of Australian law and its enforcement later in the interview.
The program showed a 888.com advert featuring cricketing legend Shane Warne to illustrate the big business aspects and sports sponsorship.
Peacock summarises the events of Black Friday in his program, referencing the case of Aussie payment processor Daniel Tzvetkoff, whom he claimed was now under police protection.
“While the web servers might be registered in offshore gambling havens like this one - Canada's Kahnawake Gaming Commission - much of the management of these sites is big business here in Australia, with one group, Internet Trafficking Solutions Management, proudly boasting a portfolio of 23 gambling sites,” he said before being refused an interview with ITSM management, identified as CEO Jimmy Taylor, at the company premises.
Peacock may have been thwarted in securing an interview with Taylor, but he did manage to get previous ITSM employees – dramatically masked – to talk rather disparagingly about marketing online gambling tactics and the harm caused by gambling.
Peacock then enlisted the aid of journalism student Dianne Cohen, who worked briefly at ITSM, and she helped him log online to one of the company’s linked casino sites.
“Using an Australian credit card, we deposited some money to gamble and within minutes were being helped online by someone who said that they too were in Sydney,” Peacock claims, saying: “They've just broken the law: they know I'm in Sydney, I'm betting Australian dollars and they're in Sydney.”
Cohen clearly has a problem with her former employer, admitting that in February 2011, she had lodged 23 complaints about ITSM-managed sites with the Australian Media and Communications Authority, or ACMA, which after more than three months determined that the law was being broken.
“The ACMA found that they were all in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Every one of them,” claimed Cohen, adding that the ACMA referred the sites to the Australian Federal Police, who said it had referred them to the relevant overseas authorities, adding pointedly that while the law may have been broken, the matter would be more appropriately dealt with by a regulatory body.
Online gambling’s Australian nemesis, politician Nick Xenophon, was an obvious choice for interview, and Peacock did not disappoint, airing the independent’s strong views against the pastime and his desire for more enforcement.
The equally opposed politician Andrew Wilkie also gets airtime, saying: “Certainly, online gaming and online wagering is increasing very, very quickly. I think we've got an opportunity here to stamp on problems before they become big problems.”
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