Louisiana drops warrant on former Sportingbet chairman

Emerging on many reliable news sources, is the news that the State of Louisiana, which led the crackdown on internet gambling last year, has unexpectedly backed down, dropping all warrants against former Sportingbet chairman Peter Dicks and ‘all related warrants’.

Shares in all online gambling companies jumped on the news, raising hopes that the prohibitionist zeal of America was waning. Warrants against up to 58 other online gambling executives are believed to still be live, but various US sources say they are close to being dropped.

“If they really are all dropped, this is good news,” said Clive Hawkswood, the head of the trade body Remote Gaming Association.

Sportingbet issued a short statement to the Stock Exchange, saying: “Sportingbet is pleased to report that it has reached an amicable resolution with the St Landry District Attorney in the State of Louisiana. All related warrants issued by the Louisiana State Police have been cancelled with immediate effect. Both Sportingbet and the St Landry District Attorney now consider the matter closed.”
A spokesman for the company could not say if any money had been paid to the state to resolve the issue. “We are bound by confidentiality agreements with the Louisiana State police,” he said. US lawyers said a payment was usual in these circumstances.

He did confirm, however, that as well as Mr. Dicks being cleared, other Sportingbet executives, including chief executive Andrew McIver, were in the clear. “Whether he’ll get on a plane to the States is another matter,” he said.
Louisiana was the most zealous of all the US authorities chasing gambling companies. It scored a notable victory when it arrested Mr. Dicks in New York, but was frustrated in its attempts to extradite him from there. Mr. Dicks was allowed to fly home to the UK.

A few hours later the US Senate outlawed online gaming, taking the industry by surprise and wiping billions off the share prices of PartyGaming, 888, Sportingbet and other UK companies.

Yesterday, Neteller, which offered payment systems for online gambling companies, said it had reached agreement with the Southern District of New York to hand back money that had been frozen in its customers’ accounts. Within 75 days it will transfer $55m (£28m). It said this was not part of a plea bargain over the arrest of two founders of the company.

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