Norfolk Island To Be Cybergambling Base

13 January 1999

Some 1,500 miles off the coast of Eastern Australia is a tiny Island called Norfolk Island. It has a population of around 2,000 people and not much beyond a little tourism (about 25,000 people visit it each year) and the export of Norfolk Island pine seeds as an economic base. History's convolutions and proximity conspired to make this Pacific Ocean dot of 34.6 sq. km (about 1/5th the size of Washington DC), part of Australia.

This brings Norfolk Island into the ambit of a first world legal and economic jurisdiction but at the same time has left it with enough autonomy to pursue its own economic agenda. This 'external territory' of Australia has the power to make its own gambling and company laws. It also has access to Australian currency, banking facilities and federal laws. It's a bit like Antigua being a part of the USA but still having the right to authorise legal cybergambling.

In what appears to be a very smart move, a new company Australian Media Services Pty Ltd, registered as a Norfolk company on December 23rd, 1998 and has entered into an exclusive arrangement with the Norfolk Island Administration to be a form of master franchise for cybergambling on the island.

The company's lawyer (and Director) John G Rutherford of New Zealand says, "Under the arrangement sub-licensing of approved ISPs and companies in other countries is envisaged so that an international service will be developed". IGN takes this to mean that AMC will be able to sub-license sports books and cybercasinos.

Attorney Rutherford went on to say "AMC is associated with a group that operates international satellite, microwave and similar services and as part of the transmission infrastructure significant facilities will be established on the Island with a view to projecting Norfolk Island into an international funds transfer center".

According to Rutherford the focus of the operations on Norfolk will be on Asia and the Pacific Rim and not the USA. Now that's not saying that people in the USA can't play or won't be accepted as players, just that it's not the focus. As it stands most Australian cybergambling legislation allows US citizens to play and protects the operators who take bets from the US to some degree.

According to the Registrar of Companies on Norfolk Island there are two listed directors of AMC, Peter Daniel Michaels of (Dana Point, California) and John Gordon Rutherford (Christchurch, New Zealand) who were both appointed on December 12, 1998. The shareholders are not known at this time.

The deal has not yet been officially announced in Australia by the Government of Norfolk Island which may well embarrass some PR people at New Discoveries Publishing who issued the first press release last week (January 5th, 1999) saying; "Software development company New Discoveries has licensed Internet gaming software to Australian Media Company Pty Ltd (AMC), which has entered into an exclusive Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Norfolk Island, an external territory of Australia, on the planned worldwide delivery of home gambling."

We gather some rushed meetings are now taking place and it looks the deal will be officially announced in Sydney on or about Friday the 15th of January as will the names of the members of the new Norfolk Gaming Authority. These people, Rutherford says, "will be highly qualified professional persons of international stature". It will be fun to see who in Australia can live up to that glowing praise.

IGN's Mr.Nambling is a gaming industry consultant and commentator with over 23 years industry experience, Glenn Barry has held senior management positions in Lottery and gaming operations around the world. His claims to fame include starting the first successful US Lotto in NewYork in 1978 and the NSW (Australia) in 1979.