Q & A: Kev Leyshon, Norfolk Island Gaming Authority

3 July 2003

Kev Leyshon, the director of the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority, spoke to Interactive Gaming News this week about how being an Australian territory has made the island's once-thriving Internet gambling licensing business fall on hard times.

"[Australia's Federal policy] has virtually killed what would have been a thriving industry."

IGN: What companies hold Internet gaming licenses from Norfolk?

KL: World Wide Totalisators Pty Ltd. hold a bookmakers' license. AusTOTE Pty Ltd. are in the process of obtaining a full totalisator license. We had issued seven interactive/Internet (casino type) gaming licenses, but all of these lapsed due to the Australian federal government interventions and the consequent banning of conducting Internet (casino type) betting with persons with an Australian registered address. We and all other state and territory jurisdictions in Australia have had difficulty since then in attracting any interest. We can still issue an Internet gaming license, but it must not take bets from Australians. It seems that other jurisdictions in other places have more appeal.

IGN: Would you say Norfolk is a strict regulator of online gambling?

KL: As you probably know, the Australian jurisdiction were the first to determine and issue strict regulatory guidelines. I do know that our documentation, which was about the first good regulatory package, has been available for well over four years and that, along with other Australian regulatory documentation, it has been used by foreign jurisdictions to promote their Internet gaming business. The irony does not escape us.

IGN: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a license from Norfolk?

KL: For historical reasons Norfolk Island is more independent as a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia than the various states. For example, Norfolk Island conducts its own customs, immigration, educational, health, policing, etc. policies. The Commonwealth has power over defense and coinage. No income tax is applied to Norfolk Islanders or to those with permits who have resided on the Island for over six months. No tax is applied to a business that is registered and managed in Norfolk Island. The Island is well served with satellite communications. It must be one of the most attractive islands in the world. It receives about 45,000 tourists per annum and obtains most of the necessary revenue to run the administration from this industry. All facilities and amenities are of good order. The disadvantages are being to a degree isolated. Some people love it and others have to get off the island after a few months. The cost of some goods is more expensive.

IGN: How is Australia's present review of its Internet gambling ban affecting Norfolk?

KL: It has virtually killed what would have been a thriving industry. We had developed very good regulations and had a head start in providing a very well regulated environment for Internet gaming before John Howard (our PM) decided to stick his nose into state business. So much for politics. However, I would still rather look at Norfolk Island than at many other Internet licensing jurisdictions if I had the money to conduct an Internet gaming site.

Anne Lindner can be reached at anne@rivercitygroup.com.