|In Australia, the Premier of New South Wales, Morris Iemma, has appointed Chris Sidoti as the Chair of the state’s new Casino, Liquor and Gaming Authority.|
The appointment of Sidoti is seen by many as another sign of how the devoutly Christian Gaming and Racing Minister, Graham West, is tackling his job as the Government seeks to discount perceptions that it is soft on powerful gambling and alcohol interests.
Sidoti’s only previous experience with gambling was while tackling problem gambling issues as the Deputy President of the Australian Council for Social Service. He stated that he was first approached by West last winter while serving in Switzerland as Director of the International Service for Human Rights.
Sidoti will initially serve as Chairman of the Casino Control Authority, replacing Talal Yassine, before chairing the new and expanded Casino, Liquor and Gaming Authority mid-year under changes in the Liquor Act.
'While I have not been interested in financial gambling myself, I'm quite willing to accept other people are interested in it,' said Sidoti.
He stated that his role would be to find the ‘best possible climate in which people can conduct recreational activities without harming them or the community’.
A lawyer, Sidoti chairs the British Government's Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum and served as a human rights commissioner from 1995 to 2000. He will be at the forefront of decisions on whether establishments can have more poker machines or if hotels can open longer hours and his appointment was, West said, ‘an attempt to make sure the community has more of a say on these issues’.
'We're setting up the Authority to handle all gambling and liquor issues and as part of that process I want to see the community have more of a say,' said West.