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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 15:22 GMT
Will Lady Luck favour Leeson?
Jimmy White has got his eye on the virtual poker tables
If the Barings banking dynasty wants to get some of its money back, now's its chance.

Nick Leeson, the trader who in 1995 precipitated the collapse of Barings Bank by running up 800m ($1.2bn) in hidden losses, is helping to launch Celebpoker.com - a new gambling website.

But he's not just cutting the virtual ribbon - he will be playing cards against Celebpoker.com's customers.

Managing Director of Celebpoker, David Donovan said: "Nick's an international name in the world of gambling, obviously.

"Unfortunately, so far he's not been so good on that front."

While employed by Barings, Mr Leeson lost 59m in a single day on the Singapore stock exchange - so does Mr Donovan have any worries that he may be about to lose a bundle?

Safeguards

He replies that he has taken the precaution of restricting Mr Leeson to a maximum stake of $500.

Mr Donovan added: "We're also looking at maybe insuring him."

But the website hopes that its roster of celebrity high rollers will help the website claw back any losses incurred by Mr Leeson.

Mr Donovan believes that punters will be drawn in by the prospect of pitting their wits against the likes of snooker champion Jimmy White, comedian Kenny Lynch, and magician Michael Feighan.

Mr Donovan explains he recruited some of his celebrity guests through a famous cousin.

Big names

He said he had signed up more snooker players, and was hoping to attract some England rugby players.

Nick Leeson: Gambling man
The website, keen to inject a highbrow note, has even held talks with poker fan Stephen Fry.

"We're hoping for our customers to have fun and interact with celebrities on the website," said Mr Donovan.

Get together

"On Celebpoker, they'll be able to get autographs and maybe even meet up with them, as we're looking at planning a once a year get together for players."

The site, which is based in Sri Lanka for regulatory reasons, was "soft launched" on Sunday 16 November and already had 32 connected players just a day later.

And prospective players needn't worry that they could lose their shirt during an online session.

Mr Donovan explained: "You can't lose a fortune like you can on some sites. Betting is restricted to $600 a day or $2000 a month."

But bad news for anyone in the US hoping to join a hand - bets cannot be taken from America.




SEE ALSO:
Doctor dreams of poker payday
09 May 03  |  West Midlands
'My job? I play poker online'
06 Feb 03  |  UK News
Off-piste with online games
15 Nov 03  |  Technology
Students turn to gambling
04 Nov 03  |  England


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