Ex-Sportingbet, Plc. chairman allowed to go home, Louisiana warrant still active

Peter Dicks, former Sportingbet, Plc. non-executive chairman, was declared free to return to the U.K. today by a New York court after Gov. George Pataki denied an extradition request from Louisiana that would have seen Dicks handed over to face charges of illegal gambling by computer.

Dicks, 64, was arrested at a New York airport Sept. 7 when customs agents discovered that a fugitive warrant had been issued in his name by Louisiana in May.

A spokesperson from the Governor's office said that Pataki denied the extradition request because gambling via computer is not an illegal act in New York. The request could not have been carried out without Pataki's cooperation.

Dicks' arrest is part of a campaign currently being waged by Louisiana's Police Gaming Enforcement division, which regulates gambling in the state. The purpose of the operation is to expose online gambling venues that accept bets from Louisiana residents - a criminal act under state law.

Officials involved in the operation say the arrest warrants for Dicks and three of his Sportingbet, Plc. associates (thought to be either executives or directors of the company) will remain active.

Furthermore, Captain Joe Lentini, head of the Police Gaming Enforcement division's casino section, has issued a warning to all Internet gambling executives to stay away from Louisiana as efforts to target online gambling firms involved in accepting illegal bets from residents will continue.

Today's court hearing regarding the extradition had been postponed from yesterday in order to allow New York authorities time to review all the information pertaining to the case.

Dicks resigned as non-executive chairman of Sportingbet, Plc., which owns Paradise Poker, following a court hearing Sept. 14. He remains an active board member of Standard Microsystems Corp. of Hauppauge, N.Y., as well as the chairman of Private Equity Investor and director of various U.K. and U.S. companies.

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