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Aces Missing In Alston's Deck
Petition Background (Preamble):
Whichever way you look at it, Communications Minister Senator Richard Alston's attempt to ban internet gambling amounts to nothing more than a deeply flawed empty gesture from a hypocritical Government concerned not with policy, but with promoting a kind of nannyism which makes sense only to the politically gullible.
The British website "The Register" (www.theregister.co.uk) took one look at Alston's announcement last month and declared: "This man must be the biggest Luddite in history." It went on to say Alston's proposals pointed to "an overwhelming miscomprehension of the Internet" which "seems dedicated to ... destroying Australia's internet industry."
And we wonder why our currency is heading south so fast it will soon match Glenn McGrath's batting average. The world looks at Australia to now see an online gambling ban alongside worthless pornography legislation, a bizarre copyright ruling involving the forwarding of emails and a digital TV debacle of bewildering proportions. However, there's no denying gambling is a problem. We are veracious punters. This puerile logic has been used to decide the Government's online gambling legislation. If you have a computer, then you're just a click away from being a pathological punter. What hasn't been recognised is the fact that betting via the internet is a matter of choice and a matter of convenience. By denouncing Alston's moves and calling for the maintenance of our democratic and net freedoms, I am not trying to encourage gambling, quite the opposite. The net is built on a culture of freedom -- not just financially -- but also in an individual making choices, and as such, it should be free of controls, censorship or Alston-style regulations.
We can expect some strange rules within the legislation. If you believe a word Alston and Co are saying, they must also be dedicated to portraying Australians as heartless exporters of misery and family degradation. Why? Australian gambling sites will not be allowed to serve their compatriots, but they will be permitted to transact with foreigners. Obviously, our ministers feel no social obligation to a struggling family in Auckland blighted by gambling. They don't vote here, so to hell with them! Also, "Australian businesses wanting to offer betting services will attract off-shore customers", says Alston, "because we are seen to be a 'safe place' in terms of collecting". It's bizarre... we as Australians can't have "safe" services; however outsiders can?! The Government will not make ISPs filter gambling traffic, a tacit acknowledgment that a ban, in the true sense of the word, is an impossible mission. Therefore, Australians will be able to gamble on overseas sites. Just to recap ... Aussies can't gamble in their own country, but foreigners can, yet Aussies can go to overseas sites for a bet. The result of this will be pretty simple: Australians with a gambling problem will do their dosh overseas, and our local, legitimate gambling industry will be on the next flight out of here. Worst of all, this legislation lets the sharks back in to replace respectable businesses, such as Lasseters Casino, SportOdds, Centrebet, Readbet etc.
What are they smoking in Canberra? Some responsibility for this debacle has to taken by the National Office for the Information Economy, which is completely out of touch. It asked a services vendor -- of all organisations -- for a report on the possibility of enforcing a complete ban. NOIE reports: "ComTech found there are technologies available to implement a ban on interactive gambling. The Government could deploy these technologies at various 'enforcement points'. However, none of the technologies would be 100 per cent effective at preventing access to offshore interactive gambling sites and all would have negative consequences for internet performance." Gartner analyst Joe Sweeney says such a move would cost at least $US300 million ($612 million) and send many of the smaller ISPs to the wall.
The fact is, no-one can enforce a blanket ban on anything on the internet. China and the Gulf States continue to wage a pathetic war against freedom of information in the same way -- and they continue to fail. It is obvious that the Australian Government are ignorant of the fact that the net was designed by the US Defence Department specifically to avoid blocking.
If online gambling is banned, then where does that leave cyber share trading, which has been called the riskiest casino of them all, capable of hooking day traders into a cycle of addiction, loss and suffering? Talk about a modern version of Reefer Madness!
A solution to curbing online gambling abuse is relatively simple and does not require John Howard's parental methods. Firstly, regulation rather than prohibition should be encouraged. Only if gambling operators felt the rules outweigh the benefits, would regulation fail. Problem gamblers, or those under-age, could be dissuaded in a number of ways. Consider these US Internet Gaming Council tactics:
* Compulsory site membership before placing a bet. Applicants to supply proof of age.
* Establishment of a $1000 account before a gambler is allowed to play and a float never to be less than $200.
* Credit cards as the only form of payment (No-one under 18 is permitted to own one).
* Establishment of list of identified problem gamblers that casino sites should bar.
* Obligation on credit card companies and banks to approve transactions online with only approved online gambling sites. A government list of approved gambling sites, so gamblers know they are going to get a fair shake of the dice.
Many countries were looking to Australia for leadership on the issue of online gambling -- and an unworkable and flawed blanket ban was the best we could come up with. It's a pretty sad indictment on a country once renowned for its ingenuity and courage.
Sign this petition OPPOSING the Federal Government's proposal to ban all forms of Internet Wagering on racing & sports events by licensed Australian Operators, and it will be submitted to the respective offices of Prime Minister John Howard and Senator Richard Alston. Protect your right for online choice, convenience and freedom.
The Aces Missing In Alston's Deck petition to John Howard & Richard Alston was written by Johnnie Walker and is in the category Government at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: gambling, internet, online, government, alston, australian, sites, legislation, services, problem, federal, wagering, forms, licensed, howard, freedom, australians, richard, senator, convenience, minister, casino, gamblers