A Look Back at 1999 (January - June)

28 December 1999

January 6 - Another page turns in the two-year-old battle between Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon and the Coeur d'Alene Indians of Idaho, operators of an Internet lottery. A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remands the case to a lower court judge to determine whether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act protects online games from state regulation even though the law refers only to gambling conducted on Indian land.

January 7 - A non-partisan group of U.S. state legislators, eventually known as the Public Sector Gaming Study Commission, announces that it has commissioned a study to address issues involving gaming in the U.S. They've specifically identified their agenda as neither promoting nor opposing gambling.

January 11 - Press reports in Australia reveal that U.S.-based Harrah's Entertainment, through an ownership interest in Sydney's Star City Casino, might be close to entering the online gambling business.

January 13 - American Wagering, Inc., an operator of land-based sportsbooks licensed in Nevada, announces the opening of its sports betting office and Internet wagering site in Canberra, Australia. The company immediately begins taking bets over the telephone and, if all goes as planned, it will be the first Nevada-licensed gambling operation to accept wagers over the Internet.

January 19 - In a case that will bring compulsive gamblers to the forefront, the U.S. Supreme Court has refuses to grant fast-track review to a federal law that would protect compulsive gamblers from the lure of casinos and games of chance.

January 21 - While the Kyl bill remains in limbo in the U.S. Senate, Illinois state legislator Dick Klemm makes a push for outlawing Internet gaming in that state.


February 9 - The National Gambling Impact Study Commission Internet Gaming Subcommittee discards scheduled testimony and proceeds to vote 3-0 in favor of recommending the prohibition of internet gaming.

February 15 - Youbet.com, provider of a PC-based pari-mutuel wagering network, announces that it has stopped taking bets from Californians on races at Santa Anita only weeks after the service began. The president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California tells the Daily Racing Form that his organization questions the legality of Ladbroke accepting bets from Californians on California races.

February 16 - House Bill 0793 is introduced in the Illinois legislature. Similar in intent to a recently introduced Senate bill, this bill extends to the Internet anti-gaming laws on the books in that state.

February 25 - World Sports Exchange's Jay Cohen, one of 21offshore sportsbook operators on the receiving end of criminal complaints filed by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in March 1998, fails in an attempt to get his indictment dismissed. The Judge denies the motion in its entirety in an oral ruling from the bench. A trial date has not yet been set.


March 5 - Starnet Communications announces that it has partnered with former boxing champion Larry Holmes to create a new online casino and sportbook called "Bet With The Champ." The company announces a similar deal a week later with former football star and actor Bubba Smith.

March 11 -Texas state Senator Mike Moncrief introduces a bill, SB 1222, that will enable the long arm to come after Internet service providers for not blocking content which enables online betting.

March 16 - A Russian law firm called John Tiner & Partners reports that it has drafted a law legalizing Internet gaming in the Republic of Kalmykia, a member republic of the Russian Federation. According to the firm, the legislation was passed on March 9, 1999 by the parliament of Kalmykia and is the first known law in Russia to recognize Internet casinos.

March 17 - PLUS Lotto, an online lottery licensed by the government of Liechtenstein, has challenged an English law that prohibits the company from advertising its Millions2000 website through traditional media in the United Kingdom.

March 23 - The wheels of "Kyl '99" begin to role. Several backers of Arizona Senator Jon Kyl' Internet gambling prohibition bill testify before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information. Those who oppose the legislation are not invited to speak.

March 30 - The 1999 version of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, S.692 (the "Kyl" bill), is officially introduced. It's been groomed a bit since we last saw it, but the framework generally remains the same.


April 2 - Controversy stirs as NCAA Executive Director Cedric Dempsey is informed during an ESPN interview that CBS television, which has a broadcasting partnership with the NCAA for the men's basketball tournament, has a business relationship with Sportsbook.com, an Internet sportsbook.

April 5 - Representatives of the Australian gaming industry plead their case for the deregulation in order to compete with the burgeoning online gaming industry. According to a report submitted to the Australian Productivity Commission's inquiry into Australia's gambling industries by ACIL Consulting, land-based gambling operators are suffering because they're dealing with tax rates of 60 percent to 70 percent, while Internet gaming operators in Australia are looking at tax rates of 50 percent and lower.

April 7 - A new venture called TrackPower comes onto the interactive race betting scene. TrackPower is a direct-to-home simulcasting service providing live horse racing video to paying subscribers throughout North America, and American Digital Communications and EchoStar Communications. A week later, the Racing Network, the first multi-channel 24-hour satellite-delivered network devoted to worldwide racing, announces that it is fully operational and will soon begin shipping its small dish, direct-to-home satellite system to pre-registered subscribers in the U.S.

April 8 - The National Gambling Impact Study Commission meets in Washington D.C. to prepare for the delivery of its final report in June. Forty minutes are allotted for Internet gaming, but the Commission needs little more than 40 seconds to address the issue. The decision has been made to recommend an all-out prohibition of online gambling.

April 9 - Northern Territory Minister for Gaming Tim Baldwin verifies that an online casino to be operated by Alice Springs-based Lasseters Casino has met NT regulatory requirements and is good to go. A day later, Lasseters Online launches to become the first licensed operational online casino based in Australia.

April 29 - The Illinois State House of Representatives overwhelmingly passes a Senate bill that prohibits Internet gaming in that state. It's now bound for the Governor's office for final approval.


May 3 -The drawn-out legal battle between Nevada businessman Kerry Rogers and the state of Minnesota comes to an anti-climatic close.

May 12 - A new version of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is reported out of the Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) for consideration by the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

May 12 - The Sunnyvale, California offices of Handa Lopez, an online gaming software supplier in operation since 1995, is raided by 30 stenciled-jacketed law enforcement agents with guns drawn and battering rams in hand. The contingent includes agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Treasury Department, Customs, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and, of course, the Sunnyvale Police Department. Authorities decline to comment on the nature of the investigation and the search warrant is kept under wraps.

May 19 - The National Gambling Impact Study Commission presents dozens of recommendations in preparation for its final draft. Five of the recommendations pertain to technology and the Internet.

May 19 - Michican state Representative James Koetje introduces House Bill 4689 to the Committee on Gaming and Casino Oversight. The bill is a measure that would amend Michigan law to prohibit Internet gambling.

May 25 - Racetracks of Canada Inc., led by its most prominent member, Ontario Jockey Club, heads an effort to amend Canada's criminal code to clear the way for legal pari-mutuel wagering on the Internet.

May 25 - Kansas Attorney General Carla J. Stovall sends a cease and desist email to the operators of several online wagering sites.


June 4 - The Queensland Government awards its first online casino license to an Australian Internet technology company called GOCORP.

June 8 - A select Senate committee in Australia resolves to conduct an inquiry into the Internet gaming industry. The inquiry will entail an examination of the impacts of websites offering casino-style gambling, lottery and sports betting by the Senate Select Committee on Information Technology.

June 8 - Minnesota attorneys file class action suits in US District Courts covering the states of Alabama, Wisconsin and Minnesota against MasterCard and VISA on behalf of players who owe the credit card companies money that they subsequently lost gambling online.

June 8 - The government of Victoria, Australia passes legislation to regulate internet gambling. The bill is modeled after the Queensland Player Protection Act of 1998.

June 9 - The Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a hearing, chaired by Senator Ben Whitehorse Campbell of Colorado, to determine the potential effects of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act on Indian gaming operations. The Indian Affairs Committee is exploring whether it should seek "sequential jurisdiction" over the so-called Kyl bill. The headache for Kyl has just begun.

June 10 - The virtual and traditional gaming worlds gravitated even closer toward each other as Station Casinos Inc. announces the signing of a deal with You Bet.com Inc. to jointly bring in-home interactive race and sports wagering to Nevada residents.

June 14 - A three-judge panel from the California Court of Appeal for the Second District rules last week that California courts don't have jurisdiction over servers not located in the Golden State.

June 15 - In a unanimous 9-0 vote, the United States Supreme Court strikes down a 65-year-old ban on radio and television advertising for casino gambling, declaring it a violation of the First Amendment. Legal experts speculate how the decision might affect the online gambling industry.

June 17 - The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (Kyl bill) is reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but not unscathed. A number of concerns, particularly regarding the bills ISP provisions and the lack of exemptions for Indian gaming operations, were voiced by some of the Committee members.

June 18 - The National Gambling Impact Study Commission issues its final report. As expected, the panel recommends the prohibition of Internet gambling.

June 21 - Television Games Network (TVG), an interactive racing channel, is licensed by the Oregon Racing commission to operate an account wagering hub in the state. According to a report in Daily Racing Form, TVG plans to accept telephone wagers through the Oregon hub from "subscribers in any state where racing is legal."

July - December

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.