William Hill Accepting Online Bets from the US

The UK’s second largest bookmaker, William Hill have announced that they will soon stop accepting online poker and casino bets from customers from within the US, at least until the scope of a US crackdown on Internet gambling becomes clearer.

Chief Executive Officer David Harding commented, “We have always taken a passive marketing approach to US customers and have never actively sought out US online business…Now, on the basis of legal advice, we are blocking US business entirely.”

The company have decided to make this move after US authorities arrested managers of British online bookmakers Sportingbet Plc and Betonsports Plc in the past few months. Legislators in the US where the government views online gaming as illegal under a law passed in 1961, in July approved a measure to stifle online gambling by restricting the flow of money to illegal gaming websites.

Shares of William Hill fell 2 pence, or 0.3 percent, to 644 pence at 3:14 p.m. in London. They have added 12 percent in the past year, less than the 22 percent advance by the 30- member FTSE 350 Travel & Leisure Index. The bookmaker has a market value of 2.30 billion pounds ($4.3 billion).

The online gaming business worldwide is worth a staggering $12 billion a year, and that figure continues to grow. The US government claim that online betting sites may launder money and sell drugs and that they lack safeguards to effectively screen out minors and gambling addicts.

William Hill, Ladbrokes and Rank Group Plc may benefit if investors become concerned about the outlook for Internet gambling companies after the U.S. arrests, Merrill Lynch & Co. said July 19. Clients may become less confident in gaming companies that have only Internet activities, Merrill said.

World Gaming Plc, which runs gambling Web sites and licenses betting software, said Sept. 25 its chairman and a director resigned so they could travel ``freely'' to the U.S.


Google News - 2006-09-27 17:46:42

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