Sportingbet makes £170m poker play

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The Independent Online

Sportingbet, the online betting company, will line up a strong hand in the internet poker stakes this week if it completes a £170m deal to buy Paradise Poker.

The company is understood to be in advanced negotiations with the owners of Paradise, Tropical Paradise Enterprise, registered in Costa Rica.

Sportingbet said last week that it was in talks to make a "substantial acquisition" in the online poker market, to be financed through an equity fund-raising. It has postponed publication of its results, which were due last Tuesday, pending the outcome of the talks.

Paradise has launched a billboard advertising campaign in the UK starring the scantily clad model Caprice. Sportingbet has only a small online poker division. The market has grown phenomenally in recent years.

Online poker operators offer the technology to host a virtual game of poker between players who may be from all over the world, and who bet against each other, with the host taking a slice of the winnings.