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Sportingbet Forfeits $33m in Online Gambling Settlement


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After four long years, London-based online gambling firm Sportingbet
PLC seems to have finally ended its woes with the U.S. Justice Department, after
agreeing to forfeit $33 million and in doing so, avoid further prosecution.

Sportingbet, like many of its rivals, fell out of favour with the U.S.
Justice Department
because it operated in the U.S. prior to 2006 – before
Congress passed its infamous anti-online gambling bill – and generated millions
of dollars in revenues.

And even though Sportingbet pulled out of the U.S. after UIGEA was signed into
law by George W. Bush, the U.S. Justice Department still went after the
LSE-listed online gambling firm on account of the millions of dollars it made
from the U.S.

Then Sportingbet chairman, Peter Dicks, was arrested on American soil in 2006 as
a result of an outstanding warrant issued in the state of Louisiana, but was
eventually released and allowed to return to England.

The Justice Department contends that between 1998 and October 2006 Sportingbet
encouraged Americans to use its online poker and online casino facilities, and
attempted to fraudulently hide the financial transactions to credit card
companies.

Now, after years of negotiations, Sportingbet has agreed to forfeit $33 million
dollars to the Justice Department in order to  ‘wipe the slate clean’ and pave
the way for Sportingbet to re-enter the U.S. should online gambling ever become
legalised.

In a statement released yesterday (Monday, September 20), the U.S. Attorney for
the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said the agreement with
Sportingbet stemmed from the fact that it had already pulled out of the U.S.
market.

In 2009, fellow online gambling giant, PartyGaming, agreed to pay the Justice
Department $105 million to avoid prosecution, while one of the firm’s
co-founders, Anarag Dikshit, agreed to pay $300 million to the Department to
avoid time in prison.

In 2007, leading Isle of Man-based online payment processor, NETeller, reached a
$136 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.

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