Online Poker

Sportingbet Settles $33 Million Debt

by Omar

As the online gambling industry waits with bated breath to see what, if any, changes will be made by the US Government’s view of online gambling and online poker, a high profile settlement was reached between Sportingbet PLC and the Department of Justice. The company, which operates out of London and trades on the London Stock Exchange was tangled in legal trouble for illegal internet gambling operations between 1998 and 2006. When the Unlawful Internet Gabling Enforcement Act went into effect in 2006, Sportingbet’s CEO, Peter Dicks was arrested upon landing at New York’s JFK airport and was held until arraigned on the charges and ultimately freed to go back to London. Since that time, the company closed up shop for its US patrons and focused its operations abroad while holding its breath on these charges. They immediately ceased accepting US credit cards and began working towards a resolution with the government.

Under terms of the agreement, Sportingbet has agreed to pay $33 million in fines and will now, in essence, be given a clean slate in the United States, perhaps paving the way for future operations given the changing landscape of Internet gambling in this country.

The settlement is substantially less than what was paid by Party Gaming in a similar case settled in April 2009. At the time of the UIGEA, Party Poker was the leading online poker site used in the United States while Sportingbet lagged behind. With more of these cases being put to rest, it would seem that the industry is slowly but surely working towards having a clean slate should the market officially re-open in this country.

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