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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
New York judge frees gaming boss
Former Sportingbet chairman Peter Dicks
Mr Dicks rang his wife to tell her the good news
A New York judge has freed Peter Dicks, the ex-chairman of online gaming firm Sportingbet arrested in early September on charges of computer gambling.

Mr Dicks had been fighting extradition to Louisiana, where he still faces charges of illegal computer gambling.

The arrest was seen as part of a crackdown on internet gambling, which is still illegal in the US.

The former head of another firm, the UK-based Betonsports is on bail, in the US after his arrest in Texas in July.

One of Mr Dicks' lawyers said that New York Governor George Pataki had refused to sign the order extraditing him to Louisiana to face the charges.

Mr Dicks is now free to return to the UK.

Money laundering fears

Analysts say the legal action against the two gaming firm bosses is part of a campaign by US authorities to make online gambling illegal in the country under the 1961 Wire Act.

They say internet betting sites can be used to launder money and do not adequately screen out underage gamblers or addicts.

The subject has been a grey area, as gambling is illegal in many parts of the US and it remains unclear to what extent the Wire Act covers online gambling.

Many firms in the $12bn online gaming industry have hundreds of thousands of US customers - but consider themselves immune from US laws because they are based offshore in countries that allow gambling.

Earlier this month, UK bookmaker William Hill has said it had stopped taking casino and poker bets online from US customers.

The firm said it would stop taking bets until the "scope and enforceability" of US state and federal gaming laws had been clarified.


SEE ALSO
Gaming boss allowed to leave US
14 Sep 06 |  Business
Sportingbet chief freed on bail
08 Sep 06 |  Business
Sportingbet chairman held in US
07 Sep 06 |  Business
Betonsports to close US business
11 Aug 06 |  Business
Former Betonsports chief bailed
17 Aug 06 |  Business
Jailed Betonsports boss is sacked
25 Jul 06 |  Business

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