Uncertainty drives Sportingbet offshore

Bookmaker Sportingbet, Plc. is jumping ship to the Channel Islands after weathering the recent U.S. gambling ban and regulatory unease in the U.K. The firm's operations will be transferred to the islands, with its customer service branch operating from Dublin.

The relocation comes after an assessment of the gambling regulations in the U.K. by the company's board of directors. Britain, Sportingbet says in a release, has unclear operational requirements outlined in the 2005 U.K. Gambling Act.

"Given this uncertainty, and with ever limited time remaining to adopt the eventual requirements, the board has now concluded that its most prudent course of action is to transfer those activities that it anticipates may be covered by the Act to a jurisdiction that has a more defined regulatory environment," the firm said in a release Wednesday.

All licensable operations will be moved to the Channel Islands from the U.K. by Sept. 1.

The Channel Islands are two separate British-dependent territories that aren't part of the U.K., and thus aren't subject to its laws or regulations.

Both moves will cost Sportingbet an expected £13.5 million in the year to July 31, 2007, the company said in the release.

Following the announcement, its shares fell 3.4% to $1.26 on the London Stock Exchange.

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