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Has Black Friday motivated a similar approach in Australia?

The Australian Crime Commission has reportedly reacted to the recent US enforcement actions against online poker executives by urging the Australian federal government and police to crack down on online poker operations servicing Aussie players. Local media are reporting that the ACC is urging that such services should be outlawed, but the boundary-less nature of the internet presents jurisdictional difficulties.

The reports quote unidentified insiders as claiming that the American FBI collaborated with the ACC and the Australian federal police in their investigations leading to the Black Friday indictments, which examined the role of the Brisbane-based e-cash processing wunderkind Daniel Tzvetkoff.

The Courier-Mail newspaper recently carried stories alleging that a number of young Aussie online poker players made six-figure money on poker on which they did not pay taxes.

Any company operating within Australia's borders that provides online gambling services to Australian residents is guilty of an offence under the Interactive Gambling Act, and can be fined up to A$1.1 million a day if convicted. Punitive measures such as this have pushed Australian players offshore to online gambling sites based elsewhere.

The latest reports note that the world's biggest provider of online poker services, the Isle of Man-headquartered Pokerstars, owns a subsidiary in Sydney, Australia titled GP Information Services. The company allegedly promotes PokerStars, and Australian banks are used to transfer funds overseas, the reports claim.

When approached for comment on the situation, a spokesperson for Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy said the government was investigating whether GP Information Services had breached the Interactive Gambling Act, but admitted authorities had problems enforcing the laws.

"As the internet is a cross-jurisdictional medium, it is difficult for Australia to enforce our laws on companies not based in Australia," she said. "The Government continues to examine the regulatory approaches taken by other countries to online gambling to see what can be learnt about the best way to respond."

An Australian Productivity Commission report on online gambling last year said the IGA had limited success reducing online poker and that its effectiveness was likely to "decrease over time".

The report said the industry could be better regulated if online poker was legalised.

Approached by reporters this week, an Australian federal police spokesperson said the organisation had been approached with a request for assistance by US authorities asking for it to take action against Pokerstars.

Source: InfoPowa News

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