New Sportingbet Plc. head plans U.S. expansion

Andrew McIver, who will take over the chief executive position at Sportingbet, Plc. next month, told "The Financial Times" Thursday that Sportingbet, Plc. will forge ahead with plans to find more customers and acquisitions in the United States despite the legal issues in that country.

McIver's statement goes against the current trend in the online gaming industry that has many companies focusing their attention outside the United States to build up their customer base because of legal issues in the country. But he believes that move would be a mistake.

He said taking the U.S. business out of the equation would leave the online gambling industry a shadow of its former self. "It's the U.S., or what's the point? I still hold that view," McIver told the newspaper.

Sportingbet, Plc., which owns Paradise Poker, recently had its own brush with the law in the United States when its non-executive chairman, Peter Dicks, was arrested in a New York airport after customs officials were alerted to an arrest warrant issued in Louisiana accusing him of illegal gambling by computer. He has since been released.

Dicks' arrest was the second of an online gambling company executive in the United States. David Carruthers, former BetonSports, Plc. CEO, was arrested in July while on a layover at a Texas airport. He was on the way to the company's offices in Costa Rica. He's been charged with racketeering and fraud charges in connection with taking sports bets from U.S. residents.

The industry is also keeping a close watch on H.R. 4411, the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, which is making its way through the federal government. The bill would essentially ban online gambling except for horse race betting and state lotteries.

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