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eBay may nix wine sales

After halting gun sales last week, the auction company's CEO says that because the laws covering liquor sales vary widely, trade in wine may be banned.

With guns now banned on eBay, the person-to-person auction company is looking at other controversial items to see if it can head off potential problems in the future, and alcohol may be next on the endangered list.

eBay CEO Meg Whitman told CNET today that wine is one category that raises regulatory issues because rules on liquor sales vary widely from one jurisdiction to another. Last week the popular service decided not to host gun auctions anymore.

"We're trying to look ahead to what might happen when, instead of having 13 million listings in a quarter, we have three or four times that," Whitman said after speaking at the BancBoston Robertson Stephens investor conference in San Francisco.

Whitman said one option might be to outsource wine auctions to a vendor like Virtual Vineyard, which has been selling wine on the Net since 1995 and thus has confronted the regulatory issues around selling in different regions or countries.