An IGN Q & A: Bryan Frost (Part 2)

16 August 1999
[View Part 1]

IGN: Are you looking at other places in the world where you can implement your software?

BF: We've got dialog going with half a dozen major casinos at the moment.

IGN: What about in the U.S.?

BF: We're watching very closely. … All we know is that the United States has no jurisdiction here, but they would probably find that most casinos here would ban the U.S. players at this time. … There's that many investors or punters anyway. They don't need them.

If the American government says to the Australian Casino, "You cannot have American people gambling because our law doesn't allow it," they may say, "Okay, we agree with you. We're not going to upset anybody, so we won't allow it." However, they've got no jurisdiction here.

We've talked to the casinos in the United States. They know damn well it's a business that's coming and it's going to happen; it's just a matter of when. But, we've counted on not getting anybody from America.

The Asian market is our big market. All our casinos here are dominated by Asian gamblers. If you're going to put in a system that allows high rollers, you're going to need a different system. And we've got that system as well. That means there will be a club. It will be exclusive. They'll only be able to get in with their own special passwords. They'll be able to make bigger bets there. It's just as if they're in a casino.

IGN: Is the high-roller function going to be part of the casino set up by Wrest Point?

BF: No, actually were talking to another casino, a major world casino that's proposing to put it up.

IGN: And can you disclose any information yet on this major world casino?

BF: No, not for a long time.

IGN: And the Wrest Point casino… You're looking to go live in August?

BF: It's August or September. It takes three to six months to validate it. It's been there two months, so it's in their hands. I would say between the end of August and the end of September.

IGN: What about your interest in New Zealand (the agreement between the GET Group and Christ Church Casino) ? Are you confident that the legislation will passed there to allow for you to go live?

BF: Yes, we believe that New Zealand will be the next one on top of Australia.

IGN: Will the regulatory model be close to what's being used in Australia?

BF: I would guess. This is up to them, but I would say they'd be using Australia as a benchmark. Why do it twice? They may well want to run it through a system over there, but once it's validated you know it's right, so what do they need to change?

IGN: Can you talk a little about the celebrity channel being developed by GET Systems through its U.S. joint venture?

BF: About six or eight months ago the guys started developing a very strong series of programs for celebrity-type gaming channels. And what we see is probably a bit further out because you're talking digital TV. We believe that 60 percent of the people will be watching the Internet on their digital TVs, and they'll be interacting through that. Now that's a year or two or three away, although they're already up and running.

We've had approaches from major corporations in the United States to provide those sorts of products. It'll be Wheel of Fortune or Sale of the Century or whatever. Who knows what games there'll be, but the people we're talking to at the moment--and we're not highlighting who they are-in the United States, who will be are joint partners… they will be looking at that. And we'll have a share in that.

IGN: And who will be controlling the programming?

BF: We'll be doing all the programming and it will be from Australia.

You'll be able to sit there, and they'll say, "They next question's going to be history…" They ask the question and you push 'one', 'two' or 'three'. You'll have a smart card, you'll be able to play your dollar or five dollars and you'll be able to play the game online.

Also, interactive gaming contests have been developed whereby you'll be able to play off a random selection against other people.

IGN: Getting back to the casino games, how do you compete with the big land-based casinos in terms of the social experience that they can offer?

BF: It goes further than that. There's quite a lot of outlying areas in Australia where they have poker machines. People don't put casinos in those areas, but they have a very large cash flow of local people. And I see that you could have virtual casinos in those casinos. Rather than people even going on the Internet, they would be put in a room where they can play electronically as if they were on the Internet, but you actually go to the casino and instead of playing poker machines you play your blackjack and your roulette and your keno and your craps and your other games.

We reckon that a fair reason for people going to these places is to have a social relationship. So they're working on chat channels as well.

This is 12 to 24 months away, but it's quite realistic that you and I might meet through the Internet in a virtual reality casino and see each other through our little eyeball cameras. We'll talk about whether we want to play blackjack or whatever and we'll sit at the same table, possibly with four or five other people.

IGN: What about multi-player poker?

BF: We haven't yet developed a poker game. But, I think there will be poker championships where people could play.

We've also developed, in a different company, a chess game. It's been announced, but there's not much publicity. It's very low-key at the moment. And we're in a position--we believe--with the lead in that. You'll have multi-player chess, for instance, where people will play at random against other chess players and they will pay to play. And the winners of that round will go to the next round, and the next round, and then they'll eventually play the major chess players, with prizes of a million dollars or whatever it is.

One of the largest interactive games around the world--I'm talking about face-to-face--as you know, is chess. 220 million people watched the last chess championship and 80 million people hit the (Web) site. We've got (an online chess site) lined up and we're putting that into another company, which is called First AU, that's Vancouver based. The asset of that company will be the chess games.

IGN: Will having a subsidiary based in Vancouver help your company establish an American presence as well?

BF: We see ourselves probably getting closer to a couple of corporations of similar style to ourselves to grow by merger, if you like. That'll give us the American presence.

IGN: And what about the Celebrity Channel? Is that going to be operated by your company?

BF: It'll all be done in America and we'll be setting up an organization to do that. We don't see any future in that in Australia. Australia's two or three years away from digital TV. The big market's America. I mean, you might sell a part of it to Australia later on, but the big market's over there.

IGN: For Internet casinos, such as Wrest Point… They'll be in charge of their own operations once they're online?

BF: You're exactly right. All we do is supply the software and tell them what hardware to use. And because the hardware's scaleable--it's a series of servers--it can be upgraded all the time; you just add more servers. They will then want to develop changes to their front end.

We have an ongoing revenue stream, which is from three ways:

  1. We supply the initial software for a lump of money;
  2. We supply the upgrades that they need--new games or new looks to their pages; and
  3. We receive a share of profits from the gaming as an ongoing revenue stream.

IGN: And your percentage?

BF: 10 percent. Wagers less pay-outs less tax, before overheads.

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.