From the Editor's Chair - v1

6 October 2003

Does law enforcement in the Eastern District of Missouri realize that scaring media outlets away from accepting I-gaming ads won't stop Americans from gambling online? In the grand scheme of things, the effectiveness of bully tactics probably doesn't matter much to Raymond W. Gruender, the U.S. attorney who went after PayPal several months ago and now appears intent on blocking I-gaming ads. Gruender was nominated last week for a seat on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and will likely be moving on in a few months.

Going after advertisers could be risky business. Considering that First Amendment rights are being denied and that good sources of ad revenue are sparse, somebody with deep pockets and axe to grind is apt to give the U.S. government a fight they'll wish they hadn't picked.

The local perspective. . . For those not well versed in Midwestern U.S. geography, the courts for Eastern District of Missouri are located in St. Louis, which is a stone's throw from IGN's offices in St. Charles. Friends of friends of friends have told us that the advertising departments for several local stations have been "encouraged" not to carry online gaming ads, although no one cares to elaborate.

What's going on in the world of World Gaming? The software supplier's OTC stock price tripled between the 17th and 24th of September. Trading volume for the week Sept. 22-26 was higher than the previous nine weeks combined. The company made no major announcements during the span. Am I missing something?

Things are awfully quiet on Capitol Hill. . . . too quiet.

Give legislators in South Africa credit for being as consistent as they come. A report released by the country's gambling board in 1999 suggested that regulating Internet gambling could enable the country to capture a $1 billion a year international export market. Since then, various factions have pushed for a regulatory bill, and time and time again those efforts have been stalled. The latest draft of a new gambling bill that would repeal the National Gambling Act of 1996 was made public a few weeks back, and guess what. . . The board wants to "establish a committee to consider and report on national policy to regulate interactive gambling within the Republic," but the current bill would not establish a regulatory regime. For roughly three years, we've been told regulated online gambling would become a reality within the next six months to a year. It's looking more and more like a mirage every day.

Kudos to eCOGRA for making Julie Sidwell their fair gaming advocate. Sidwell, who previously mediated disputes between online casinos and players for, is one of the best at what she does. I can say from experience that dispute resolution in this business is not a walk in the park. eCOGRA got the right person for the job.

There's only one job more demanding then dispute resolution, which brings us to our Bravery Award of the Month. Those honors go to the GoneGambling Onion. If you were at G2E last month and you strolled through the Internet pavilion, then you probably happened upon one squatty round smiling, waving bulb in an Elvis jumpsuit. The lovable foam mascot sweated through the week greeting curious visitors (many of which acted as if they'd never been face to face with a gal in an onion suit) at the GoneGambling booth. As if enduring what must have been dizzying heat wasn't enough, it became apparent to us at River City Group in the next booth over that people really love to mess with wobbly mascots with tunnel vision. Three days of prodding, pushing and poking have earned the Elvis Onion the IGN Badge of Courage, and that brings a tear to my eye. . . Or is it just the onion fumes?

SportOdds has been emerging as a leader in the Australian online sports betting market over the last couple of years. The group's purchase of Alice Springs-based Centrebet could position them as the region's dominant operator. Look for them to stay aggressive.

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.