Australia to Crack Down on Internet Gambling

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:
Apr/22/2011
Australia Internet Gambling

Australian internet gamers - gamblers, and was as many sectors of the media are going to welcome the news that greater consumer protection measures are coming up in the near future. More regulation may also be in order as a result of information Australian Daniel Tzvetkoff has been passing to the FBI and other authorities in relation to gaming and the financial services sector. Media Man and Gambling911 continues to deliver news you need to know...

Aussie Internet Gamblers To Get More Protection...

Australian gamblers who lose money, rather that make a quid, playing internet poker or online casino games like slots, would be able to void unsuccessful credit card wagers under legislation to be tabled in Parliament next month. It's part of the plan to crack down on illegal internet betting. Independent senator Nick Xenophon will also put forward proposals re advertising controls on companies with gaming products and their affiliated websites. It's understood laws prohibit gambling houses from allowing Aussies to play poker and casino games for money across the web, however no company has been prosecuted for breaching these regulations. Roughly $1 billion is bet by Aussies over these websites annually.

"With voided credit card bets, I have to say there's something appealing to me about online casinos losing their shirts rather than the punters," Xenophon said. "It would certainly make online casinos think twice about accepting Australian cards." The Australian government is in a wrestling match to introduce pokies reform under which the maximum individual bet would be reduced from $10 to $1. That change is part of a deal the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, struck with the independent MP Andrew Wilkie to help snatch his support after the election last year. Some dramas hit betting sites became worldwide news last weekend after America's Federal Bureau of Investigation laid charges against the major players in the global online poker industry - PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker - alleging bank fraud, money laundering and breaches of US gambling laws. It boosted the popularity of some gambling brands not in trouble such as bwin.party digital entertainment and PKR. The FBI also sought to recover more than $US3 billion ($2.8 billion) as the proceeds of crime. Although the "Big Three' being probed by the FBI cannot advertise in Australia, some use affiliated websites...like "play for fun" (not money)...sponsorship of sports teams also happen such as with NRL clubs Cronulla and the Sydney Roosters, and then already one brand has a stadium named after them. Brands offering prohibited poker and casino betting can also operate from within Australia. It's understand a company called GP Information Services, which has an office in 'Sin City' Sydney, is a subsidiary of PokerStars, running a 200-strong office in downtown Chatswood, just 15 minutes from the heart of Sydney's CBD. Firms that breach the law can be fined up to $1.1 million a day, but none has been prosecuted, but a spokesman for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy advised "a number of instances … have been referred to the AFP".

Daniel Tzvetkoff Gets Witness Protection For Gaming Information...

Ex Australian internet whiz kid Daniel Tzvetkoff is likely to have entered the FBI's witness protection program and could be put up in a jail facility on the US east coast, a former FBI special agent believes. Tzvetkoff's last known location was a prison in New York where US government prosecutors fought at bail hearings to keep him but, on August 23 last year, he was moved under a veil of secrecy. It is believed the 28-year-old Gold Coast entrepreneur, once worth about $82 million, has become a star witness for the FBI and prosecutors. Last week, the FBI charged 11 people - including the founders of the giant PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker internet poker companies - with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences. "He's in a lock-up somewhere," said James Wedick, a decorated former FBI special agent who worked with the crime-fighting agency for 34 years and specialised in handling confidential informants and co-operating witnesses. Tzvetkoff was arrested a year ago in Vegas and faces 75 years in US federal prison for allegedly creating a scheme to illegally process more than $US500 million in transactions between US gamblers and internet gaming websites. Wedick said if Tzvetkoff had agreed to become a government witness, it would not guarantee his release from custody. "There's no way they'd let him walk out," he told the press after examining details of the cases. It was also unlikely Tzvetkoff would be held in a safe house. Jails had special wings or floors for prisoners in the witness protection program and these were separate from the general prison population, he said. "If he's gone into the witness protection program, he is merely in one of the protection wings of the prison," Wedick said. The FBI and prosecutors from the US Attorney's Southern District of New York office have declined to comment on Tzvetkoff's whereabouts. Court proceedings in Tzvetkoff's case are held behind closed doors and filings sealed from the public. "You are going to have to call the US Attorney's office on this," said a FBI spokesman, declining to comment on the Tzvetkoff case. A call to the US Attorney's office came with the same info. "It's our policy to not comment on ongoing cases and investigations," the spokeswoman said. A couple of years back, Tzvetkoff was pushed as one of Australia's smartest and most successful young businessmen after creating Brisbane-based internet payment processing company Intabill. Tzvetkoff drove Lamborghinis, Ferraris, showed off his wealth, and now its come back to haunt him. Other companies with some links to the gaming industry are understood to be doing house keeping and getting more legal advise to make sure their business won't suffer a similar fate to Tzvetkoff's.

A Media Man spokesperson said "We will continue to cover the gaming sector, just as we cover a dozen industry vertical markets. Online property, celebrity and entertainment news, travel, politics and overall expansion of website portals remains a focus point for us. We're not a casino, but we will certainly continue to cover the casino, online casino and poker sector. We've been offering alternative news and online media for a decade, and we are not about to stop covering it just because some questionable gambling websites based in the US closed down. We will also continue to rank a online casino and online poker website of the month also. It's pretty much business as usual across our international network".

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911 and founder of Media Man International

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