From the Editor's Chair - v22

25 January 2005

How soon we forget. Remember six years ago when Australia's states were setting the pace for the I-gaming industry? The "Aus" model was considered the ultimate template for regulating online casinos, and Australia was poised to be the world's leading I-gaming jurisdiction. . . . Remember six months ago when the same was being said about the United Kingdom? The outlook for I-gaming in Australia, needless to say, took a turn for the worse in 2000, and the industry's promising future Down Under evaporated before our eyes. Five years later, we're seeing the same scenario unfold in England, where the formerly certain-to-pass Gambling Bill has hit a brick wall. The expansive bill aims to modernize the country's gambling laws, and it's been in the works since around the same time Australia's federal government squashed the I-gambling ambitions of the Aussie states. If passed, the U.K. Gambling Bill would provide a framework for regulating online casinos, but certain aspects of the bill (namely its perceived propensity to turn Great Britain into Las Vegas) are being adamantly opposed by England's land-based gambling industry. You might say no one saw this coming, but after watching what happened in Australia, the steps backward in the United Kingdom should come as no surprise. Those in the gambling industry, more than anyone, should know that "sure things" don't exist.

Speaking of things that shouldn't be surprising, don't expect the U.S. Justice Department to rule on Casino City's challenge to the insanely fascist crackdown on I-gaming ads anytime soon. Barring further delays (which are well within the realm of possibility) the schedule for the next round of proceedings will likely be determined this week. IGN will report this information as soon as it's available, but for now I'm going to go out on a limb and say this thing's more than likely not going to conclude in the near future.

Kudos to the I-gaming industry for doing its part in raising money for tsunami relief efforts. Numerous I-gaming groups, including, Golden Palace, Absolute Poker, Trident Entertainment, English Harbour, Next Generation Entertainment and Winward Casino Group, have contributed to the cause. Gaming portals and Got2bet also chipped in by auctioning off prime advertising real estate on their Web sites for a 12-month period. The two sites raised $111,000 for UNICEF, with VIPCasino and its sister site, InterCasino, taking the top spots.

It was encouraging to see ARGO (Association of Remote Gambling Operators) welcome Gibraltar-based iGlobalMedia as its newest member last week. I was skeptical about whether a group anchored by major British betting companies would reach out to bookmakers outside the United Kingdom, and it's good to see that their scope extends beyond Great Britain.

Enel, the Italian electric company, is allowing customers to pay bills using "Bancomat" cards at various locations, including lottery terminals. Seriously. A country that blocks foreign gambling operators in the interest--according to E.U. requirements--of protecting its citizens is okay with its people paying bills and purchasing lottery tickets electronically at the same point of access. I'm assuming there are people in Italy who can't afford to pay bills and spend money on gambling. With that in mind, is it smart to give this group the last minute option of playing rather than paying? Not a very bright idea.

Required reading from the chair. . . If you're a fan of year-end "Best of" and "Year in Review" articles, check out the "Best and Worst of 2004" section of As a liaison between consumers and operators, the Meister (Bryan Bailey) always has a unique perspective on the online gambling business. His wrap-up piece is an entertaining read, and yes, you might even learn something.

Finally, if you're attending this week's International Casino Exhibition this week in London, be sure to visit my colleagues at River City Group at booth 3092. They'll be expecting you.

That's all for now.

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.