Credit card blocking would penalise 'honest online casinos'
By maddy
FEDERAL Government moves to block internet gambling transactions on credit cards would only penalise honest casino operators and disadvantage gamblers, Vanuatu's internet gaming regulator has warned.

Intetactive Gambling Consultants, the company hired by the Vanuatu Government in 2001 to manage online gaming licences, has cautioned that blocking transactions made under code 7995, signalling online gambling, would simply help operators in unregulated jurisdictions.

The comments came as Australian online gaming provider Lasseters warned that attempts to block card transactions would push more customers to unlicensed operators. Blocks are being considered in a review of the Interactive Gambling Act, due to be completed by September. Major banks have warned laws to block or dishonour transactions would be difficult to enforce.

Legitimate online casino operators would find it difficult to do business if card transactions were blocked, while those in unregulated jurisdictions could simply bill under non-gambling codes, Mr Fletcher said. Those using intermediaries for payment could also escape the block. Not all operators were attracted by regulated jurisdictions.

IGC head Simon Fletcher suggested a special code be made available to gaming operators in regulated jurisdictions such as Vanuatu. While Vanuatu has had a slow start to legalised online gambling, IGC is hoping things will pick up when it is connected to a new submarine cable, expected in December 2004. Vanuatu is expecting growth to be driven mainly by sports betting and peer-to-peer betting exchanges, which have been growing rapidly in recent months.

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