New Role at Online Casino Firm Raises Eyebrows
In a highly controversial move, Maryland Jockey Club chief Joe DeFrancis has been announced as the new head of electronic operations at online casino firm Magna Entertainment. The appointment comes at a time when the U.S. is preparing its response to a WTO ruling requesting the government clarify its position toward offshore online casino businesses by April 2006. The WTO case was originally brought against the U.S. by Caribbean nations Antigua and Barbuda, claiming the government’s stance against online casino business is discriminatory.
Industry insiders say that news of Joe DeFrancis’ new role could be seen as hypocritical considering that the WTO has requested information on U.S. gambling policies, in particular those pertaining to horse-racing. The U.S. has attempted to ban offshore online casino operators for moral reasons, but has permitted national gambling activity on horse-betting to date.
The decision has also raised questions of impartiality given Magna’s associations in the online casino business. The firm will run its betting channels exclusively through a new company called PariMax, which is the owner of an international online casino agency called MagnaBet and Race On TV, a live television station that broadcasts races from Magna racetracks. Parimax management is also responsible for Magna’s 30 percent shareholding in another betting company Am Tote International.