Sportingbet’s Peter Dicks Faces Gambling Charge

Peter Dicks, the chairman of Sportingbet Plc who is currently being held as a fugitive in New York will face illegal internet gambling charges in the state of Louisiana, a police spokesman revealed a short time ago.

The 64 year old businessman was arrested at 11.30 yesterday (US time) at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Dicks is being held on a warrant filed in Louisiana back in May as part of an ongoing investigation into illegal gambling, so commented Dwight Robinette, a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police.

Shares across the completely online gambling sector fell after news emerged of Dick’s arrest. Sportingbet, who get more than half its revenue from the U.S yesterday requested that trading in its stocks be temporarily suspended. U.S officials claim that online gambling is against U.S law and that gambling websites can be used to launder money and sell drugs and they complain that such sites lack the safeguards to screen out minors and gambling addicts.

Robinette of the state police said that there are additional outstanding warrants in the case.

Dick’s arrest follows that of David Carruthers, the then chief executive officer of the U.K based web based bookmaker Betonsports Plc back in July. Carruthers was arrested on charges including racketeering and fraud. At the time Sportingbet stock slumped by a staggering 44% in just two days.

Betonsports was ordered by a U.S court to cease accepting wagers from the country and to return deposits to American gamblers. Last month Betonsports said that they would shut down all operations that accept bets from the US.

Since news of Dick’s arrest has spread PartyGaming, the world’s biggest internet poker company reported that their shares dropped by around 19%.

Over the past few years the internet gaming has mushroomed into a $12 billion a year industry helped by companies such as PartyGaming who gets more than four-fifths of its sales from the U.S  last year. The indictment of Carruthers came just a week after American legislators approved a measure to stifle online gambling by restricting the flow of money to illegal gaming web sites.

PartyGaming shares fell 11.5 pence, or 9.8 percent, to 105.75 pence in London today, rebounding from earlier losses. Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, an Austrian online bookmaker, slid 2.42 euros, or 8.9 percent, to 24.70 euros in Vienna after dropping as much as 19 percent earlier.
Leisure & Gaming Plc, which owns betting brands including VIPsports, declined 25.5 pence, or 35 percent, to 48 pence in London and closed at the day's lowest price. 888 Holdings Plc, the largest online casino operator, fell 27 pence, or 16 percent, to 144 pence. World Gaming dropped 27.5 pence, or 30 percent, to 64.5 pence.

Editor, - 2006-09-07 19:31:06

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