Casino ads on MPs website

THE website of state Community Services Minister and anti-gambling campaigner Christine Campbell has links to an online casino based in the Caribbean islands.

It also carries banner advertisements for another gambling site, Gamesville, offering games such as “Miami poker”, “big easy blackjack” and “bonus ball bingo”.
The ads promote more than $200,000 in cash and prizes each month.

The West Indies-based Casino on Net features video poker, roulette and slot machines letting users accumulate points that can be converted to cash.

It has multi-player tables and credit card processing facilities, and claims to have received more than 500,000 hits in four years.

Ms Campbell launched an assault on compulsive gambling in November last year, unveiling a $1.8 million advertising blitz.

The campaign features graphic portrayals of compulsive gamblers causing emotional and financial distress to family.

Liberal MP Peter Katsambanis said he was shocked by the ads, saying children visiting parliamentary websites could be exposed to gambling.

“It is sending a terrible message, especially since Christine Campbell is responsible for problem gambling in Victoria,” he said yesterday.

The Federal Government has imposed a 12-month ban on new Internet gaming licences, sparking fears this could drive people on to unsafe foreign sites.

Ms Campbell’s spokesman, Tim Winkler, said the site would be shut down and relaunched without online casino advertising.

The new site would feature links to information about problem gambling.

“We think it is inappropriate to have these ads and we will shut down the site as soon as possible,” he said.

Mr Winkler said Internet service provider Tripod offered the site free in return for placing banner ads on the homepage.

He said a volunteer from Ms Campbell’s electorate of Pascoe Vale created the website, which carries a disclaimer for the random ads.

Under the deal with US-based Tripod, recipients are unable to choose the content of ads and cannot pay to remove them.

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