Sportingbet fined $33m in US

Steve Dinneen
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Sportingbet, a British online gambling company, has agreed to pay $33m (£21m) to avoid being prosecuted over an alleged illegal gambling operation in the US.

US attorney Preet Bharara agreed not to charge Sportingbet after saying it broke US law by offering betting on sports events and casino games between 1998 and 2006.

Barry Slotnick, a lawyer for Sportingbet, said the decision was a “good resolution for all”.

He added: “It has been three-and-a-half years of hostility, anger and ultimate negotiation. We have reached what we believe to be an extremely fair resolution that benefits the company and its shareholders.”

Sportingbet fell foul of a US law that effectively bans internet gaming. The US Department of Justice said Sportingbet deliberately used payment processing methods that were designed to deceive credit card issuers, which bar the use of their cards for internet gambling, and took steps to mask payments of winnings to customers.

Sportingbet had agreed to cooperate with the government probe, and made employees available for interviews.

Shares in the firm leapt 16 per cent yesterday as investors gambled on takeover offer now the case is effectively over.

Further consolidation in the gaming industry is expected in the wake of the recent $3.3bn tie up between rival PartyGaming and Austria’s Bwin.

Analysts at Altium Securities said: “With the removal of this major regulatory concern, we view Sportingbet as an ideal takeover target,” adding the fine was at the bottom end of their estimate.