From the Editor's Chair - v16

29 June 2004

The legendary competition between England and Australia over which country's government can move the slowest in addressing interactive gambling policy took a dramatic turn last week. Australia's federal government, over a year beyond the deadline for reviewing its Interactive Gambling Act, was mounting quite a comeback against England and its seemingly insurmountable lead until Friday when word got out that the review could be coming in a matter of days. As if that news wasn't devastating enough to the Australian molasses factory, England may have assured itself victory with news that its Agony (a.k.a. "Scrutiny") Committee is asking for yet another round of submissions regarding the U.K. Gambling Bill, which time-lapse photography has proven to be moving slightly faster than the speed of evolution. The committee didn't specify whether it meant "submission" as in "here's another 50 pages of blather about topics that have been beaten to death and back to life and then back to death again. . . " or "submission" as in "please, oh god no, I can't take any more of this mind-numbing process."

The ultimate tech "Whoops" of 2004 could go hands down to AOL, which recently suffered a security collapse resulting in all 90 million of its usernames being sold to an online casino marketer and then resold to a penis enlargement vendor. Spam is a serious problem, and negative news involving online gambling is bad for the industry, yet there's something very amusing about AOL's predicament. I'm not sure what, but I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Golden Palace got more "exposure" out of Mark Roberts' Super Bowl streak than it could have ever imagined. CBS was keen to kill live footage ala the magical seven-second delay, but no one could conceal the ridiculous aftermath. If you didn't catch it in the news last week, Roberts went back to Houston for his date in court, where a jury found him guilty of trespassing and fined him $1,000. So Roberts got tons of media coverage for a miniscule $1,000, and many of the articles linked back to his site, which features links to That's a lot of marketing bang for the buck. As for the absurdity of the whole matter, ESPN's Ray Ratto may have summed it up best: "The man is a visitor to our land, does the work of an entertainment hero, for God's sake, and this is how we treat him. No wonder people hate us."

A final comment on Roberts. . . If you've visited his Web site (, you've seen some strange and amusing, but the strangest one yet was the one news sites posted of him sitting in court wearing a suit. You'd hardly recognize him. I thought maybe he'd streak his own trial. . . Now that would have been bold.

Sentimental bettors hoping for the first racing Triple Crown in a quarter of a century made Smarty Jones' loss at Belmont Stakes a huge win for fixed-odds bookmakers. Perhaps the risk factor that comes with sentimental favorites exemplifies why the P2P model works so well from a business standpoint. Speaking of the P2P factor, I'm a bit surprised no one has blamed Smarty's loss on Betfair.

Another Betfair/P2P nugget. . . Betfair's bid to bring P2P betting to Singapore via an agreement with Singapore Pools seems like a bit of a long shot, but why not go for it? That said, if Singapore Pools decides to work with a P2P service, it would behoove them to put out an RFP. Anyone looking to compete with Betfair in the P2P space should take a long look at the Asian market because it could be lights out if Betfair takes root there--and they already have a head start.

U.S. interactive race betting company Youbet last week unveiled plans to launch a wireless service in July--a smart move. I was quick to point out this company's shortcomings during its first three or four years of existence, but they've positioned themselves well in the last two or three years--starting with their securing an advance-deposit wagering license in California in 2002. Time will tell whether they can successfully integrate wireless betting into the mix, but going for it puts them on the right track.

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.