From the Editor's Chair - v13

26 March 2004

The Isle of Man, a jurisdiction that for a short period of time appeared to be the ultimate location for top-notch gambling operators, in February blew some potentially positive news through the cloud of dust engulfing its implosion. The government is now reaching out to IT and entertainment companies looking to operate in a tax-friendly jurisdiction. We're happy for them, but where does that leave interactive gambling? Indeed, they are reworking their policies in hopes of once again becoming a premier online gambling jurisdiction, although the process could be slow. As evidenced by the launching of sports betting services from Paddy Power and Chronicle, the climate for wagering seems to be getting healthy, but I'm hearing from insiders that the government won't have things sorted out for casino gaming for a couple of years. Bring on the entertainment sites, I guess.

Cisco Systems, this week announced that it's acquiring Riverhead Networks, a company that provides security solutions to protect Web sites from DDoS attacks. The I-gaming space can be a lucrative market these days for selling such solutions, but I wonder if a public corporation like Cisco would steer clear of the industry. I also wonder how wide Raymond Gruender's amazing aiding and abetting net stretches. And I wonder whether Gruender (the U.S. attorney for Missouri's Eastern District) has attended any of Eliot Spitzer's "Get Rick Quick" clinics.

One more little DDoS nugget. . .

Gambling sites aren't the only victims in the DDoS attacks. Companies offering fee-based games online are complaining that the extortionists are now hitting them as well--more evidence that these are equal opportunity criminals.

And a few more little nuggets on the insanely fascist crackdown on advertising. . .

If you've watched the vastly popular World Poker Tour on Travel Channel lately, then you've noticed that hats, clothing and signage having to do with Internet poker rooms have been blacked out. Amazing. This has gone way too far, and it's not exclusive to Internet gambling either. The U.S. government has embarked on a classic rightwing censorship campaign, and the backlash is soon to come. There will be change, and with it hopefully relief for advertisers.

I was glad, by the way, to see the New York Times take on this important issue. The paper's article last week on the Gruender crusade garnered a lot of mainstream attention, and that's what the industry needs to fight it. As usual, major media are falling in line with features of their own. Considering that the media are victims in this, I don't see a lot of rightwing spinning in the works.

I don't know exactly what's happening with Panama-based sports book BetPanAm, but I'm pretty sure it isn't anything good. The operation reportedly went under several weeks ago and doesn't appear likely to recover. Like in many of these unfortunate cases, customers are awaiting payment and are quickly losing hope. IGN has made repeated attempts to communicate with BetPanAm as well as Panamanian authorities and no one is willing to talk. Damage control doesn't appear to be a concern. Panama might have a lot of great things to offer, but accountability isn't one of them.

In the spirit of hating Microsoft (who is no doubt monitoring me as I type these words), I sure am glad to see Europe stick it to Gates and Co. for monopoly abuse, but as an observer of the gambling business, I must ask: What the hell is going on? Is this the same European community that's vehemently fighting to defend its gambling monopolies against cross-border gambling services? Talk about a double standard.

Antigua's victory against the United States in the countries' WTO dispute has a lot of people in the I-gaming industry very excited. Many say the ruling is a major victory for online gambling and that the United States will have to back off its stance against online gambling. I agree that it's great news and that it solidifies the argument against prohibition, but let's be realistic. Since when does the United States respect the and abide by decisions made by international governing bodies? With that in mind, I predict Goodlatte, Kyl and Co. will go back to playing the terrorism card (i.e. terrorists are laundering money through online casinos). Seems like threats to national security afford the United States the right to ignore international policy. And by the way, the United States' penalty for not abiding by the WTO's ruling: maybe--just maybe--trade sanctions from Antigua. I'm sure Dubya and the gang are shaking in their boots.

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.