Australian Online Shares Crash
By James Mc
The US Congress decision to approve the Internet Gambling bill appears to be having a devastating impact on global industry share prices as news breaks that Melbourne-based Betcorp Ltd, and Lasseters Corporation, based in Queensland have both slumped on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Betcorp slumped 57 percent from 106.5c to 81.5, with Lasseters down 51.4 percent at 3.5c. Both companies derive most of their revenues from the United States and are expected to be hit hard by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was unexpectedly rushed through the US Congress on Saturday.

The bill, expected to be signed into law by President Bush this week, makes it illegal for finance companies to collect credit-card payments from customers using Internet gaming sites.

Betcorp had previously claimed the effects of the legislation on Internet gambling companies would be minimal, however in a statement yesterday the company admitted its profit margins would be compromised.

'While management will take appropriate action to mitigate its impact, the act is likely to have a material adverse effect on the company and its profitability.'

Lasseters, which generates 80 per cent of its business in the US, has so far refused to comment, although it said in its annual report released last month that it was closely monitoring US developments and would alter its business model in the event of changes in circumstance.

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