Online gaming gets real in Oz

Tomorrow will see the launch of Australia's first licensed online gaming site - Lasseters Online (http://www.lasseters.com.au), a production of Alice Springs-based Lasseters Hotel Casino.

Produced over two years at a cost of $5 million, the site will offer registered users the opportunity to play games including Blackjack, Roulette and slot machines.

And although Lasseters Online is ready to debut nationally, its operators have acted on the Northern Territory Government's recommendation that only NT and overseas residents be initially allowed to use the service.

Despite some Australian states passing legislation in 1998 to regulate online gaming, the Federal and State Governments are still in discussions regarding a national regulatory model - specific to the debate, the sharing of taxes derived from gaming.

Individually, the Northern Territory, Queensland and ACT governments passed legislation for the licensing of online gaming last year. Tasmania amended its Gaming Control Act, allowing already licensed casinos to provide online gaming (though residents of Tasmania are excluded from using those services).

Western Australia and South Australia have not yet acted on passing legislation, while New South Wales maintains that online gaming is illegal under the state's Gaming and Betting Act 1912.