From the Editor's Chair - v9

9 January 2004

Yes, the spirit of the holidays has carried over into 2K4, and there's a little something for everyone in this week's grab bag of I-gaming observations.

For those whose glasses are half empty. . . Might we be witnessing the emergence of a viable opposition to the long-awaited U.K. gambling bill? It should come as no surprise that factions concerned with problem gambling are coming out against the expansion of gambling in the United Kingdom. (The real surprise is that it's taken so long.) A group of opponents, led by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Salvation Army and the Evangelical Alliance argued Thursday before the Houses of Commons and Lords that England should not permit new forms of gambling, such as Internet and mobile gambling. This, of course, raises the question: Does the opposition pose a serious threat to the expansion/liberalization movement? Considering that DCMS Secretary Tessa Jowell's has begun pressuring gaming companies to contribute more money to preventing problem gambling (while dangling the possibility of making such contributions mandatory over their heads), I think "yes" is a pretty safe answer.

For those whose glasses are half full. . . I didn't paint a very pretty picture for I-gaming's future in Australia in my 2003 year-in-review article posted last week. There are many indications that the updated Interactive Gambling Act, due this year, will be even more restrictive than what was passed in 2001, and that's what I wrote. I received an e-mail over the weekend from an Australian gambling attorney who's close to the legislation process, and he insists the future isn't nearly as bleak for I-gaming Down Under as I have made it out to be. A ray of hope? I certainly hope in this case that he's right and I'm wrong.

For those who need glasses. . . Why was Pete Rose sought as a spokesperson for Internet gambling? Rose says he turned down a $2 million offer to endorse an online gambling service, and I'm perplexed as to why such a dishonorable person would be in demand. The name "Pete Rose" doesn't exactly translate to "integrity." I'm glad it didn't happen. I-gaming doesn't need him.

For those who love a conspiracy theory. . . Australian bookmakers' rep Tim Ryan, by whom you can slip absolutely nothing, pointed out to me that U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, the father of the U.S. I-gaming prohibition movement, was in Canberra this week as part of a Congressional delegation on the Free-Trade Agreement. Commented Ryan, "I just wonder, with our IGA review having to been given to the Minister (Daryl Williams QC MP) by Christmas (or someone would be skinned alive) if a side chat on gambling may have been scheduled while Kyl was in town." Australia's Interactive Gambling Act has a provision calling for cooperation with countries with policies consistent with those of Australia, so it's not unrealistic suggest that I-gaming might have been somewhere on Kyl's Australian agenda.

For those looking to fill up their shiny new 2004 calendars. . . Mark April 22 as the day Jay Cohen is freed. Cohen, president of World Sports Exchange, was convicted in 2000 for conspiracy and several counts of violating the Wire Act. After a failed appeal and a denial by the Supreme Court, Cohen began serving a 21-month sentence in 2002.

For those who find the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act as ridiculous as I do. . . Thanks to President Bush's recent signing of the United States' first anti-spam bill, the age of spam prohibition in America has officially begun. Never mind the fact that it will do nothing to chip away at the hundreds of junk e-mails I get every day. I'm curious to see whether legislators will learn a lesson about unenforceable Internet policy that will be carried over to the I-gaming debate. Probably not.

That's all.

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.