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Q.& A. | Anthony Seyfort, Attorney, Australia

6 May 2009

By Jeanette Kozlowski
Currently wading through a wave of regulatory reform in Victoria, Anthony Seyfort sees a bright future for gambling in the region.

Mr. Seyfort has spent 17 years in gaming law, which included obtaining Crown Ltd.’s casino license in Melbourne as the its company secretary and senior lawyer. Currently as a partner with Lander & Rogers Lawyers heading up its corporate and commercial division, he is involved in the keno and wagering licensing processes in Victoria.

At the end of this month, the legal advisor to the Australian Internet Bookmakers association will appear at BetMarkets Asia to discuss regulation in Australia. Until then, Mr. Seyfort gives us a glimpse of what investors and operators should be on the lookout for down under.

You're going to be conducting a round table discussion at BetMarkets Asia. In your opinion, what is likely to be a question on everyone's mind?

    The question will be: What is the best way of entering the Australian wagering market in the foreseeable future? The full answer will be revealed at the round table, but I can say now that depending on whether the investor wants a joint venture or to go alone, and whether the scale is to be small to start with or big from early on, there are, in my view, conceptually five possible ways to go. Within some of these routes are various actual opportunities -- so it's a good time to be assessing!

I read that there's a lot of regulatory reform going on in Victoria. Is it more than usual? And if so, why is that the case?

    There is substantially more reform than historically. This is for two reasons. The first is a chain of events started by Betfair's entry to Australia, and its large deployment of resources to successfully challenge some of the historical interstate market barriers through its successful high court case last year. This has lead to relaxation of advertising restrictions and some states, including Victoria, competing to be attractive jurisdictions to base a fixed-odds business.

    The second is that Victoria currently has licensing processes underway for a new keno license and for a successor licensee to Tabcorp from 2012. That wagering (tote and fixed-odds) license will also carry the right to run a betting exchange.

    As to why now, it's the time on the 20-year calendar leading to existing licenses expiring in about three years.

Can you expand on some of the major gambling-related developments that are just on the horizon for Victoria and Australia? What should operators following that region keep an eye on?

    Apart from the Victorian wagering and keno-licensing processes, there's an opening up of pub- and club-based slots in the pipeline, also to take effect from 2012.

    More excitingly in wagering, the Tasmanian State Government-owned "Tastote" (tote and fixed-odds business) is to be privatized on revolutionary license and fiscal terms. This could be a great entry point for offshore new entrants, but you need to be well-briefed on some mitigating regulatory and commercial factors, including the state product fee regimens.

Last October, advertising restrictions on bookmakers were relaxed in both Victoria and New South Wales. What impact has loosening those restrictions had on the betting industry?

    Advertising has proliferated, and competition is hot. This will see some arbitrage and possible market rationalization. Watch this space!

With almost two decades of experience in gambling law, there's no doubt you've seen a lot of changes through the years. What has been one of the biggest changes you've witnessed?

    When I worked for Crown Casino from its opening in 1994, each of the different gambling types had its neat box in terms of regulatory arrangements, region and market segment. We now have a national gambling market, except for venue-based slots and keno.

    Despite regulation scrambling to catch up and some short-lived reactionary barriers from vested interests, the tide can't be turned back. The new vibrant national race and sports betting competition is clearly the biggest change.

Taking the current economic conditions into consideration, what do you see in gaming's future particularly in Australia? How about in Asia?

    Gambling in Australia ranks just behind food and shelter in hierarchy of many individuals' needs! It is an integral leisure pursuit in a sport-loving nation. Gambling revenues will be robust through the recession.

    The problem with the recession coming at this time of licensing processes and greater competition is that it might limit investors to larger businesses, so there might be less innovation that otherwise in the short term. For those able to invest now, the future will be good, and they will gain greater traction than had the recession not happened.

    Australia could become a good element in a regional betting business -- and Asia surely has a positive investment profile, too.

Q.& A. | Anthony Seyfort, Attorney, Australia is republished from

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Jeanette Kozlowski
Jeanette Kozlowski