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Glenn Barry

Room For New Operators in Aussie and New Zealand Online Gambling

3 March 1998

There will be room for new on-line gambling operators to break into the Australian and New Zealand Internet gambling markets according to two of the key regulatory officials from those countries.

During an informal but-on-the-record discussion with Trevor Garrett, CEO of the New Zealand Casino Control Authority and David Ford, Executive Director of the Queensland (Australia) Office for Gaming and Racing at the ICM conference "Gaming Technology 98" held in Sydney on March 2 and 3, a few issues were raised that will be of a lot of interest to ‘would-be’ cybergambling operators not to mention regulators everywhere.

Both of these regulators are of the opinion that over the Internet Gambling is here, and here to stay and it is pointless to try to stop it. Both are of the opinion that, given some wheeling and dealing and the renegotiating of some exclusivity arrangements with existing real world operators, there could be a number of new players allowed to operate cybergambling under the Australian and New Zealand regulatory systems in the very near future.

How many? Maybe hundreds !!!

That’s right, the regulators can see a time when those who can pass the stringent probity and background checks required to hold gaming licenses will have little trouble in obtaining a real cybergambling license in a legitimate, first world, rule of law country. I was so surprised I asked the question a few times and got the same answer, I asked the question some more just to be sure I heard right.

"You mean there could be hundreds?" I said.

"Yup," they said.

There is a proviso or two, whilst they say that’s "Yup," in theory, they are of the opinion that very few new operators would be able to pass the background checks, the requirements for experience in gaming, Internet technology, and capital adequacy that will be part and parcel of their idea of what licensed Nambling operators should be.

Australia and NZ have no intention of becoming the "Caribbean Cybercasino Haven" of the Pacific, no licenses handed out like sweets at a country fair down under. That much is clear. The probity and background checks will eliminate "all but a handful" of operators from their point of view. Operators will face the same level of investigation as land based casino operators.

On the other hand, they have no intention of having their gaming markets becoming wood ducks for aggressive offshore cybercasino operators. Nor do they intend to have their punters left to the sharks that increasingly haunt Caribbean waters and around little postage stamp-sized Island kingdoms in the Pacific.

"It’s as much to do with consumer protection" said Queensland’s David Ford, "We can’t see how you can stop this technology."

Both agreed there were a lot of problems to overcome and issues to be examined. These ranged from territory exclusive agreements with land based casinos to taxation agreements between states, credit betting, controls on underage gambling and the testing of games to ensure fairness and avoid tampering with the payouts.

Earlier during a question time session Trevor Garrett was asked about what affect the USA Kyle bill might have on New Zealand taking bets from US citizens. He said it was "an interesting question, with no particular answer at this point of time". He then went on to say that even with a "Kyl" bill "there was not really much the US could do".

He pointed out that Australian and English sports betting operators had been taking bets over the phone from New Zealanders for years and there was not really much practical regulators could do even if they had the resources to do it.

One US regulator at a US conference had threatened NZ with a trade embargo to force the Kyl Bill on them - not a good idea really, they are a fiercely independent country New Zealand and it wouldn’t be the first time they have told Uncle Sam to take a running jump. (The last time was over US warships carrying Nukes in NZ waters, NZ and the US didn’t talk for about 20 years).

On the Australian side, it does seem like the states of Queensland and Victoria have legislation at the starting gate and political disasters not withstanding there will be new laws for cybergaming before too much longer.

Both regulators have reservations and are of the opinion that the future of cybergambling is not clear. They do accept, however, that the Internet is here to stay and that cybergambling will be a part of that.

One final point they made was that they had the feeling that the number of dubious sites springing up on the web was a direct result of a lack of regulation and acceptance of the reality of Internet gambling which was keeping the legitimate operators on the sidelines.

Room For New Operators in Aussie and New Zealand Online Gambling is republished from
Glenn Barry
Glenn Barry