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Aussie Gaming Authority Blasted Over IGT Payment

12 June 2002

AUSTRALIA -- As reported by the (Australian) Age: ``The Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority's decision to accept a $350,000($US200,000)payment from a US poker machine manufacturer that it was investigating was `inappropriate' and `poorly judged', the state's public sector watchdog has found.

``Ombudsman Barry Perry said that he could not find any provisions in Victoria's gaming legislation that allowed the authority to demand or accept a payment from a registered entity it was investigating.

```I believe it is inconsistent... for the regulator/investigator to require or to accept payment of the costs of their investigation from the person investigated,' Dr Perry said in a report to parliament yesterday. `Indeed, it seems to me that it invites allegations of impropriety and failure to act independently and impartially.'

``The Age last year revealed that Gaming Minister John Pandazopoulos had asked Dr Perry to investigate the appropriateness of a $350,000 payment made by US poker machine giant, International Game Technology, to Victoria's Office of Gambling Regulation.

``The office, which acts as a support body to the authority, funded and conducted a two-and-a-half-year investigation into allegations that IGT was involved in bad corporate practices in Turkey in the early 1990s. The reason for the investigation was to determine if IGT was still a suitable company to operate in Victoria.

``Dr Perry said it was impossible to determine who suggested the payment as IGT and the office accused each other of making the first move.

``Dr Perry found the authority's director of gaming and betting, Bill Lahey, had disregarded the limits of his powers by accepting the payment and accused him of failing to properly inform the authority's board about the probe..."

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