Punters to Bet On Porn Site

SYDNEY (01/25/2000) - Soft-porn magazine Penthouse and Trans-Global Interactive (TGL) plan to launch an Australian online casino, despite the Australian federal government's commitment to investigate the "feasibility and consequences of banning Internet gambling."

In conjunction with Australian-based Gaming & Entertainment Technology (GET), and Penthouse publisher General Media, TGL plans to license and launch the "gaming and wagering" site in an Australian state and/or territory by June 30.

The deal, expected to net TGL and GET "an anticipated, significant royalty stream, and ancillary and miscellaneous revenue," provides for a long-term licence of the Penthouse brand, together with all ancillary rights, including the use of the name, logo, media library, and the merchandising of Penthouse products.

Heading up the casino will be Ed Fishman, TGL director and former executive chairman of the Players Club International Casino Group. Fishman, who has helped develop, operate, and market gaming and entertainment complexes in a number of U.S. states, will apply for a local gambling licence to operatepenthousecasino.com.

Penthouse Publisher Bob Guccione says his company will conduct a vigorous marketing campaign for the site, which is geared to the estimated 25 million people who currently gamble online, a number estimated to grow to 300 million by 2005.

In addition to gaming, the casino, which hopes to accommodate "thousands of players simultaneously," will offer services such as a sports book, handicapping, fantasy league tournaments and a variety of other betting, according to TGL. The site will also be fully integrated with the official Penthouse Website.

"(The Penthouse casino) could quickly become the largest online casino in the world," Fishman said.

According to U.S. consultancy Bear Stearns, global revenues from Internet casinos were an estimated $1.2 billion in 1999, and could grow to more than $3 billion in 2002, TGL said.

In response to a Productivity Commission report released last year that claimed around 290,000 Australians are problem gamblers who lose more than $3 billion annually, the federal government announced it would investigate the abolition of online gambling.

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