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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 17:58 GMT
888 brushes off US legal concerns
Blackjack table in casino
888 is diversifying its range of online gambling games
Online gaming firm 888 has said it is confident US politicians will ultimately reject a bill that proposes a tough clampdown on the sector.

On Wednesday, a committee in the US House of Representatives approved a bill to stop firms like 888 accepting credit cards or other types of payment.

"We feel confident it won't get through the next stages, and we'll be okay," said 888 chief executive John Anderson.

His comments came as 888 reported a 16% rise in annual profits on Thursday.

For the year to 31 December, its pre-tax profits totalled $50.2m.

'Diversification'

Gambling is illegal in many parts of the US, but internet gaming firms like 888 have millions of US customers, because they are based offshore in countries that allow gambling and are out of reach of US laws.

The bill would make it illegal to accept payments from people who live where federal or state law prohibits wagering, and thus include gambling sites based overseas. It has now moved to the House floor for consideration.

Despite 888's confidence the bill won't be passed, its possibility has seen the firm diversify away from the US market.

However, the US still makes up 55% of its customer base, with 20% of its punters coming from the UK.

"To rely on one country too much is not good, and without reducing volumes, I'd like to get the percentage we're taking from the US down to 20 to 30% as soon as we can," Mr Anderson said.

He added that the company had diversified its range of gaming products and geographic locations, making 888 well prepared for the "inevitable" consolidation in the industry.


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