Betting chief arrested in US

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The chairman of UK-based sports betting business Sportingbet was detained by authorities in the United States early today.

Shares in the company were suspended after Peter Dicks, 64, was held whilst visiting the US on non-Sportingbet business. A court hearing is due to take place later today.

The move comes weeks after BetonSports chief executive David Carruthers was arrested at Dallas Airport en route to his company's offices in Costa Rica.

The indictment relating to Mr Carruthers referred to "illegal wagering on professional and college football and basketball" which BetonSports offered until recently on its website.

Shares in other gaming companies plunged today, with Party Poker owner PartyGaming down 14% and 888 Holdings off by a similar amount.

Online gaming stocks have been volatile in recent months following the BetonSports charges and the possibility of further legislation in the US.

Sportingbet did not disclose the reason for Mr Dicks being detained, or the location where he is currently being held.

He was detained at 2am UK time and is due to attend a hearing at 2pm today.

The company said: "Pending clarification of the situation, the board has sought immediate temporary suspension of Sportingbet's shares."

Earlier today, the company unveiled plans to buy smaller rival World Gaming in a deal potentially worth £56.6 million.

Mr Dicks joined the group in January 2000 as Sportingbet's non-executive chairman. He is the chairman of Private Equity Investor and director of various UK and US companies, including Polar Technology Trust.

The company has grown rapidly in eight years and now boasts being a £1.2 billion turnover business, including from ownership of Paradise Poker.

It has over 2.5 million registered customers in 200 countries, who place more than one million bets on casino, poker, sports and virtual games a day.

The detention of Mr Dicks came on the day his company announced it was in the early stage of talks about a possible takeover of Antigua-based gaming software supplier and betting operator World Gaming.

Shares in London-listed World Gaming initially rose but then lost a quarter of their value after details of the detention emerged. Sportingbet planned to fund the £56 million deal in shares, which were suspended at its own request today.

Sportingbet shares were badly hit in July when news of the charges against BetonSports were revealed. As a sports bookie, the company is seen as more vulnerable to potential action in the US.

Comments