Sportingbet is game for another flutter in the US

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The Independent Online

Sportingbet, the online bookie is "reviewing re-entering" the US market today after paying its last fine relating to its former activities in the world's biggest economy.

Sportingbet is now in advanced discussions with Connecticut-based operator Foxwoods Resort Casino about providing it with an online platform for intra-state poker and casino games as part of a joint venture.

This follows the firm suspending its operation in the US in 2006 after the former president, George Bush, introduced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

This effectively prevented anyone in the country from placing bets online even if the casino is based overseas.

As part of its settlement reached in September 2010 relating to previous illegal gambling between 1998 and 2006, Sportingbet has paid its third and final payment of $6m (£4m) to the US Department of Justice, which in exchange will not prosecute the British firm.

Sportingbet has now coughed up a total of $33m under the terms of the settlement.

Andrew McIver, chief executive, said yesterday: "This final payment formally closes any risk which the company may have faced from its former activities in the US.

"Given that the US market continues to show signs of regulating both by product, and by state in the near future, various opportunities exist to re-enter the US market and we are reviewing these."

While the US is unlikely to legalise gambling at a federal level, individual states, such as Nevada with its gambling mecca of Las Vegas, are making progress towards offering online gambling.

Sportingbet, which generates two thirds of its sports bets from football, has undergone massive changes over the past 12 months.

It made a loss of £12.9m over the six months to 31 January, largely driven by exceptional costs of £24m.