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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
Gaming firms plan for US upheaval
A man playing online poker in the US
Staking money on the internet will soon be illegal

Online gaming firms are facing major upheaval with the passage of a new law effectively making internet gambling illegal in the US.

Legislation which makes it a federal offence for firms to accept or handle money obtained from online gaming in the US was signed into law by President George W Bush on Friday.

The severe clampdown has dented investor confidence in British gaming firms, many of whom generate substantial revenues from the US.

Uncertainty

There is still some uncertainty about the scope of the law and how it will be implemented.

The government has 270 days in which to issue regulations stating that banks and other institutions must block gaming-related transactions.

A logo for the 888.com online poker game
888 Holdings says it will pursue other activities in the US

Several affected gaming companies have already indicated that they will stop trading in the US.

Others are making contingency plans for having to scale back their operations and move into other markets.

Some face serious financial problems including World Gaming which called in the administrators on Friday.

Here is a summary of what the UK's main gaming firms and other businesses with exposure to the market have said about their intentions.

PARTYGAMING

With more than 70% of its sales coming from the US, Partygaming has described the ban as a "significant setback".

It has said it will indefinitely suspend all its online gaming sites, such as PartyPoker, in the US once the measure becomes law.

While pledging to develop its casino and poker games in other countries, it has also warned that it will "realign its cost base".

888 HOLDINGS

The firm has said it will stop accepting gaming business from US customers once the bill is signed, this remaining the case for as long as the law is on the statute book.

It has vowed to develop other business activities in the US.

While it says its financial position is not under threat, it has cautioned that it will review its cost base.

EMPIRE ONLINE

Empire Online, which markets online poker and casino sites, on Friday said it was immediately ending all business in the US - where it earns 65% of its revenue.

It had already said that leaving the US could have "a material impact" on future profits.

SPORTINGBET

Sportingbet's former chairman Peter Dicks was arrested in September in connection with a US anti-racketeering probe centrered on online gambling.

He has since been released but the firm's shares have taken a battering, falling 8% on Thursday in anticipation of the presidential approval.

Sportingbet has offloaded its US sports betting and casino businesses to Jazette Enterprises for a nominal fee of 1.

BETONSPORTS

BetonSports' former chief executive David Carruthers was arrested in July and has been charged with fraud and money laundering.

A restraining order has been placed on the firm's US business, which is run from Costa Rica, and it is now being shut down.

The firm has said it will ensure that it does not knowingly accepts US wagers and will seek to reimburse existing US customers.

WORLD GAMING

World Gaming has called in the administrators after concluding that the forced closure of its US operations will deprive it of the bulk of its sales.

The firm's senior directors including chief executive Daniel Moran have all resigned.

NETELLER

Neteller, which operates online payment and money transfer systems, says the US ban could have a "material adverse effect" on its US arm.

The firm, which has three million customers in 160 countries, says it will adapt its business to mitigate any fallout from the US measures.


SEE ALSO
World Gaming on hold after US ban
09 Oct 06 |  Business
Firms suspend US gaming business
10 Oct 06 |  Business
New system will 'block' gambling
03 Oct 06 |  Business
US gaming ban hits UK firms most
02 Oct 06 |  Business
Betonsports to close US business
11 Aug 06 |  Business
Former Betonsports chief bailed
17 Aug 06 |  Business

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