Sportingbet, Plc. releases statement about UIGEA, will ban U.S. clients

Sportingbet, Plc., owner of Paradise Poker, released a statement today regarding the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in U.S. Congress this weekend. The bill was attached to unrelated legislation dealing with increased security at U.S. ports. It must be signed by President George W. Bush before it can be enacted.

Sportingbet, Plc., which has recently undergone its own trauma in the United States as a result of its online gambling operations, says it will suspend the activities of U.S. customers on its various online gambling sites if President Bush signs the act into law.

In the statement released by the firm about UIGEA, it says:

"Whilst the Act has not sought to extend the scope of the 1961 Wire Act to specifically include Internet Gambling, the Act does seek to prevent certain forms of Internet Gambling in the U.S. by prohibiting and criminalizing relevant companies from making or receiving financial transactions using the U.S. banking network.

"Should Sportingbet, Plc.'s non-U.S. international banking partners determine that the Act applied to them, then Sportingbet would no longer be able to take deposits from U.S. residents and this would have a material impact on the Company's trading performance."

Until that time, however, the company said it would continue to research and clarify the legislation, and would not make any definite decisions on the future of U.S. customers until a full picture of the act's implications emerges.

The company also said it will be researching whether the act is in violation of U.S. commitments under the General Agreement of Trade and Services, and representations made by the United States in recent World Trade Organization proceedings.

Currently, approximately 62% of Sportingbet, Plc.'s gross win is generated by U.S. based customers, while 26% comes from European customers and 12% from the rest of the world.

Sportingbet, Plc.'s statement comes after similar warnings were issued by PartyGaming, Plc., owner of, and 888 Holdings, Plc., owner of Pacific Poker.

The company also announced it has decided to terminate talks with World Gaming, Plc., with which it had recently entered into takeover negotiations, as a result of the passage of the UIGEA.

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