Global Policy Review - December

6 December 2002

Hong Kong Promises Range of Soccer Bets

In November, Hong Kong's legislature made soccer gambling legal and handed it as an industry to the Hong Kong Jockey Club to operate.

The Jockey Club is said to be preparing a range of soccer bets to make sure it can keep pace with illegal bookmakers. In addition, the practice will be taxed differently than race betting to ensure that rates stay competitive.

Patrick Ho Chi-ping, the secretary for Home Affairs, said punters would have a range of possible bets, including win, draw or lose, total score and the number of corners taken.

"The type of games would be as attractive as those being sought through illegal means," he said. "Our primary goal is to combat illegal bookmaking. We have to make sure that our games are competitive enough."

Hong Kong outlawed Internet gambling (with the exception of services offered by the Jockey Club) in late May.

Botswana Passes New Gaming Policy

The parliament of Botswana on Nov. 25 approved a new gambling policy that aims to bring the African country's betting and gaming laws up to date.

Jacob Nkate, the trade and industry minister, who presented the Gaming and Gambling Policy to the parliament, said the new legislation will replace existing laws that have not kept up with changing regional and global business demands and technological improvements.

One of the gaming activities the new policy serves to adjust is raffles. Raffle organizers often postpone the drawing so that they can raise more money by selling more tickets. MP Bahiti Temane said that practice should be revised so that raffle organizers can't cheat the system.

Temane also praised the introduction of counseling for gaming addiction.

"Regulations must be strong, and care must be taken to look into new concepts such as information technology, which people could take advantage of to the detriment of the society," Temane said.

ACT Institutes New Gaming Code

The Australian Capital Territory recently saw the implementation of new gambling regulations, which went into effect Nov. 27.

The new rules, which are regarded by the local media as tough, will apply to all gambling operators in the territory, including casinos, bookmakers, ACTTAB and lotteries. Overstepping the regulations can cost an organization up to AU$5,000 in fines or suspension or revocation of its gambling license.

The regulations ask gaming operations to make sure their staff complete an approved training course and that each gambling location offer to disallow anyone with a gambling problem. Ted Quinlan, the territory's gaming minister, said ACT is the first area in Australia to institute a territory-wide gambling code. However, he said, that doesn't mean he is anti-gambling.

"We don't want prohibition," he said. "We want people to be able to enjoy themselves on as many levels as possible, but at the same time a civilized society needs safety nets for people who might face considerable ill effect from participation from gambling."

Vanuatu Shifts Control of Offshore Banks

Vanuatu's Parliament recently passed new laws that will put the country's international and offshore banks in the control of the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu.

The new laws, which came in the form of revisions to the country's International Banking Act, take supervision of the international and offshore banks away from the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, which currently oversees them.

The Reserve Bank is better able to handle the international and offshore banks because it has a better networking relationship with banks in other countries, said Vanuatu's finance minister, Sela Molisa.

Molisa said the transfer is also a result of the need for better protection against money laundering. Vanuatu's financial industry makes up between 11 and 12 percent of its gross domestic product.

"We want to be seen as a good, clean (financial) center," Molisa said. "We don't want money laundering passing through Vanuatu."

Thai Poll Results in Favor of Legal Casino

A recent poll in Thailand found that the majority of residents in the Bang Lamung district are in favor of legalized gambling.

The poll, which was reported on by the Bangkok Post on Nov. 24, was conducted by students at Burapha University and Sri Pathum University in October. Students from the two schools distributed 60,000 questionnaires to villages in the district, and got 38,976 valid response surveys.

Of the respondents, 78.5 percent were in favor of building a casino in Pattaya, and 24.2 percent were not in favor of it. About 78 percent of those surveyed said that they knew of casinos but had never been to one.

Additionally, 64.4 percent said that a casino in Pattaya would attract foreign travelers, who would increase revenues for the country and prevent casino money from going to other countries. About 35 percent said that a legal casino would make gambling more widespread and therefore create social problems.