UK gaming firms start trading in new US market

Oliver Smith
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THREE UK gaming companies have been granted regulatory approval to operate online casinos in New Jersey, a gaming market that the state government said could be worth $1.2bn (£740m) a year.

888 Holdings, Bwin.Party and Betfair all began trading yesterday in the newly regulated state after the New Jersey Division of Gaming handed out seven licences for firms to offer online gaming.

“There’s speculation that the momentum from online gaming in New Jersey will continue in California next year, Pennsylvania, Illinois and other states may follow as the scale of the opportunity becomes clearer,” Bwin.Party director of corporate communications John Shepard told City A.M. yesterday.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 placed heavy regulations on gambling websites, blocking them from operation in most US states. Only Nevada and Delaware have regulated their markets up till now.

Canaccord Genuity gaming analyst Simon Davis said that the New Jersey regulation marks a watershed moment for US online gaming.

“It’s not the first US state to regulate online gaming but its the first sizable state. This is the first meaningful step to opening up the US online gaming market.”

All three companies saw their share prices rise yesterday, with 888 Holdings climbing 1.7 per cent to 163p.

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