Australian gambling industry slams online ban

Following the Australian government's passage of a 12-month moratorium on online gambling, interactive entertainment and e-commerce company GoCorp slammed the legislation in an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

          Following the Australian government's passage of a 12-month moratorium on online gambling, interactive entertainment and e-commerce company GoCorp slammed the legislation in an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), stating that it "will only serve to force consumers into the arms of the many potentially unscrupulous and unregulated operators that exist around the world today."

          In a move to protect consumers, GoCorp and the BetSafe consortium introduced the BetSmart initative, a global 24x7 online counselling service for problem gamblers. The government's bill will result in the dissolution of this service.

          GoCorp says the legislation takes away the only consumer protection for online gamblers that exists in cyberspace today and fails to protect the interests of Australian consumers.

          The company supports the position of the Internet Industry Association, in that the legislation will scare away any foreign investment in Australia and reinforce the global view of Australia, recently described by federal government treasurer Peter Costello as a "giant quarry."

          GoCorp is currently seeking advice concerning compensation. Over $A30 million was spent on the development of the business and GoCorp expects the business to operate and be profitable for the entire licence period of 15 years.

          Key aspects of GoCorp's online gaming operations are directly impacted by the bill. GoCorp says it would be "untenable to continue operating its Internet casino business in its current form."

          GoCorp plans to move forward in a different form and is currently in negotiations with offshore and local parties in an attempt to continue to leverage off its assets, core competencies and intellectual property. The securities of the gaming company are effectively suspended from quotation until January.

          GoCorp's CEO Paul Appleby was unavailable for further comment.

          GoCorp is listed on the ASX and has significant cash reserves and no debts.

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