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Glenn Barry

'Kyl Bill May Fail' Says Aussie Minister

30 March 1998

The AIC’s 6th Casinos and Gaming Conference (the plug is how a writer gets into these conferences for free namblers) held in Sydney Australia from March 30 to April 6 is proving to be of interest.

On day one, the Minister of Racing and Gaming of the State of New South Wales, Richard Face, gave a lengthy presentation and the following should be of interest to the namblers of the world:

"I now want to move on to another area which has generated considerable publicity, and received a great deal of attention from a wide range of interested on-lookers, over the past few years. That area is internet gaming. It is an area that is not fully comprehended by the public at large, and possibly by some in the gaming industry as well.

"That will change with advances in Internet technology, rises in access to Internet services, increases in gaming technology product knowledge and availability and modifications to legislative controls in the Australian States and Territories.

"Until fairly recent times, the absence of a sophisticated, acceptable, popular, attractive and low cost mechanism by which players in one jurisdiction could access the gaming products of operators in another jurisdiction has worked to preserve State and Territory gaming and wagering controls.

"But those days are numbered. Through collaboration by state and territory officials, we saw the development last year of a model scheme for the regulation of interactive gaming. I'll take you through the main features of the model. "They involve the approval of products under a licensing regime, and the rendering of all unlicensed products as being illegal to provide, advertise or otherwise market; they involve the establishment of licensing criteria that are similar to statutory standards established in relatively recent times for casinos and gambling machines; they entail no limits being placed on the number of service providers that may be licensed; they provide for the establishment of appropriate operational controls, including supervision by government inspectors and auditors; they involve a taxation regime under which tax would flow to the participating Government in which the player is resident; they require players to hold an account with a service provider, or be registered with a provider, before they may engage in gambling; and they provide for the establishment of a appropriate public interest safeguards including prohibitions on participation by minors and the use of credit gambling."

Well, as the speech was a bit of a gloss over I thought up a question or two and, after the media mob assaulted the minister over a range of local issues, finally got to put a few important questions to Minster Face "on the record" as they say.

(And I want to know why the media, as in the written word, stood back while these wankers with their TV cameras and lights got the first interview? They stuff around with their lights and sound and ask all sorts of questions that will never see the light of the screen. What the hell is special about these TV wankers? They only use 20 seconds of the whole stuff they record anyway, and it's watched by people who don't care; any more of this and my fellow journalists and I will have to pull you lot into line!... Television does not come first in this day and cyberage!)

Anyway, here are the questions posed and the Ministers answers, verbatim Draw your own conclusions and then I'll tell you what I think.

Glenn Barry: Minister, now that Queensland (Australia) has passed the Interactive Gaming Bill, when will we see one in New South Wales (Australia)?

Minister Face: That's likely to occur some time in this session (of the NSW state parliament) appropriate to… we've got a few more things we have to take into account in this state than Queensland do...

Glenn Barry: Do you think it will be a more difficult passage here than in Queensland?

Minister Face: I don't think it will be more difficult. It will just be more complex, that's just the very nature of New South Wales. I mean, the only thing we haven't got here at the moment is two flies going up the wall and that's because we haven't found a way to regulate yet. (Local reporters break up over ministers joke.)

Glenn Barry: If it does go ahead, are we going to see cybercasinos licensed in NSW?

Minister Face: That's very speculative ... for this stage.

Glenn Barry: Will the [State] Lottery be allowed to go online?

Minister Face: Well, that's why they were (incorporated). They can go into certain areas. That legislation allows... others it doesn't… that's a decision for government at some period of time.

Glenn Barry: We have the [New South Wales] TAB [OTB] already on-line, will we have sports bookmakers allowed to go online?

Minister Face: We're just going through the whole bookmaking thing at the moment. We've entered into discussions they're one of the sections of the community that haven't had any redress...

Glenn Barry: As you know with the Kyl Bill, it proposes that it make both the supplier of the gambling services and the individual who gambles guilty of a crime under US 1084 as amended

Minister Face: Well that's why we are looking at it, not because we are married to the Kyl Bill—far from it—but we wanted to see what they were doing and what they were likely to get away with. We were talking to an Internationally recognized person in the legal area of gaming last night (who happens to be in Australia for another conference), (and he was saying) the Kyl Bill from over, it comes back, gets amended, goes back again. I think it's got a long and rough passage ahead of it.

Glenn Barry: Even if it does have a rough passage if it does pass and it makes it illegal for an individual in the United States to connect to an Australian gambling site, the Queenslanders have taken the position that if an offense happens offshore , it will not affect the license of an operator licensed under Queensland law...

Minister Face: That's right.

Glenn Barry: Will the NSW Government take the same view?

Minister Face: That's what we are going through at the moment, we are going to come out with a package that advantages NSW at the same time in line with the decision of the State and Territorial Ministers, though, Western Australia has decided not to do it last week..

Glenn Barry: The opposition in Queensland thoroughly supported the Interactive Gaming Bill. What is the situation with the opposition here in NSW?

Minister Face: We haven't discussed it with them yet, but I imagine that the Queenslanders see it in the same light as some of the other smaller states do—that it might be a windfall. We're not in that. We're about making it right ... (At this point the Minister wandered off into political wank and point scoring so I will spare you that as it really does not throw any light on the debate.)

So it looks like two important things came out of all of this: One is that the unity of the Australians on the issue has failed in at least one state (Western Australia). For the moment, that puts an end to a "national" approach in Australia. The second is that the biggest state will try to get up a cybergambling law in this (1998) legislative session (the final form not yet resolved).

Then there is the Minister’s comments on the Kyl Bill. Here is at least one minister of a pro cybergaming first-world government who seems to have formed the opinion based advice that the Kyl Bill "has got a long and rough passage ahead of it." Not to mention that he is not "married" to the Kyl Bill. Them sounds like fighting word to me.

So it does look like we may see cybergaming legislation in NSW Australia this year and Senator Kyl will be left standing at the alter.

'Kyl Bill May Fail' Says Aussie Minister is republished from
Glenn Barry
Glenn Barry