Sportingbet pays $33m to settle US inquiry

Sportingbet website
Image caption Sportingbet wants to "draw a line" under US events

UK online gambling firm Sportingbet has agreed to pay $33m (£21m) to settle a US investigation over alleged illegal internet gambling, US prosecutors said.

It means the firm will avoid being prosecuted in the US for accepting online bets made by Americans.

US Attorney Preet Bharara said the sum represented illegal internet gambling proceeds Sportingbet had made from providing services to US customers.

The firm's website says "Sportingbet no longer accepts any bets from the US".

After the settlement was reached Sportingbet's chief executive Andrew McIver said the deal would allow the firm "to draw a line under events of the past".

"It is in the best interests of our shareholders that we can now look to the future with increased confidence."

Law change

As part of the settlement, the US Department of Justice will not criminally prosecute Sportingbet over its internet gambling business with US customers from 1998 to 2006.

During this period, Sportingbet offered gambling on sports events as well as casino and poker games, added Mr Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The firm has also agreed to co-operate with the US government, and to make employees available for interviews.

Sportingbet was forced to restructure after a US law passed in October 2006 effectively made internet gaming illegal.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, part of the Safe Port Act, did not specifically target online gambling.

However, it prevented US banks from handling financial transactions involving online gambling service providers.

At the time of the legal change the US made up 65% of Sportingbet's revenue.

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