CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Search News Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!

Gaming News

 

Antigua's Gyneth McAllister: Still Director of Offshore Gaming, Still Talking Reform

25 May 2000

Gyneth McAllister is still the Director of Offshore Gaming in Antigua. And despite death threats, she is determined to carry out a major reform of the country's regulation of Internet gaming operations.

"I have not resigned and the Prime Minister has said publicly that if I had submitted my resignation, he would reject it," McAllister told RGTonline.com in an email interview. "That sent a clear message to my detractors."

Rumors about McAllister's status intensified after she canceled, on short notice, an appearance scheduled for May 12 at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit and Expo in Montreal.

"The Prime Minister said no to my trip as there have been two death threats about three weeks ago and a break-in at my home," McAllister said. "The licensees who do not support the closer scrutiny did indeed lobby and try to pressure my removal in the hope it would stop the passage of the legislation."

She did not give any details about the threats on her life. One of the goals of the proposed regulatory changes, however, is to make it more difficult for criminals to launder money through online sports books and casinos.

Antigua licenses more online casinos and sports books - about 150 -- than any country in the world. Like other Caribbean venues, Antigua is known for lax regulation and no taxation.

But McAllister has been saying for several months that she wants "to set international standards" for regulating the industry. Her government hired Technical Systems Testing, an Australian company that tests equipment in both bricks-and-mortar and cyber casinos, to consult on new standards for the online industry.

In March, a draft was released of TST's "Internet Gaming Technical Standards & Guidelines" for Antigua. Many operators reacted angrily to the proposal, and threatened to leave for other venues.

McAllister said she has the full support of the Prime Minister, Lester Bird, and encouraged operators "who wish to relocate out of the jurisdiction due to the higher standard of accountability to do so rather than attempt to derail an unstoppable train."

"Why stay and threaten to leave year after year when flights depart from Antigua to all points of the Globe every hour?" McAllister asked rhetorically in her email this week.

The train may be unstoppable, but it's moving at an extremely slow speed. That may be due to protests from online operators or to bureaucratic delays, or a combination of the two. And the government has backed off from the most controversial aspect of the TST proposal.

That was the "black box," a computer called an audit server that TST had proposed attaching to each operator's server. Through a central monitoring system, regulators would have been able to tell if an operator had changed gaming software (which could mean a variance in payout rates from those that had been approved by regulators), calculate the revenue each site generates for purposes of a new tax planned by the government, and look for signs of money laundering.

The black box will be replaced by a "less intrusive'' method of monitoring, according to John Cargnello, chief executive of TST.

In March, McAllister spoke of getting legislation passed by Parliament in June. The legislation would have implemented a final version of the TST proposal, as well as a new 2 percent tax on adjusted gaming revenue.

But Gary Collins, who is a lawyer reporting to the Prime Minister and who spoke in McAllister's place at the Montreal conference, said then that the legislation will only be sent to Parliament by mid-June, with the hope that it's passed by August.

And that legislation won't deal directly with new Internet gaming technical standards or the tax, he indicated. It would remove online gaming from the jurisdiction of Antigua's Free Trade Zone and place it under a new gaming authority, which would also regulate land-based casinos.

Only after that happens, apparently, would the issues of new standards, monitoring and the tax be addressed. So while drastic changes have been under discussion since November and may still be forthcoming, they appear to be months away.

McAllister insists that they will happen, however.

"THERE WILL BE A TAX OF 2%!" she said in her email this week, in capital letters. "THERE WILL BE BOTH A SOFTWARE TESTING REQUIREMENT AND EITHER PERIODIC MANUAL EXTRACTION OF INFORMATION PERTINENT TO THE PAY OUT RATIO OR THE MECHANICALLY EXTRACTED EQUIVALENT ALONG WITH FINANCIAL AUDITING BY AN APPROVED ACCOUNTING FIRM.

"That's the end of the story. No one is going to intimidate, manipulate or strong arm this government."

< Gaming News