SportingBet Chairman Released on Bail

SportingBet Chairman Peter Dicks was released Friday on bail, allowing him to leave the Rikers Island prison in New York, where he had been detained following his arrest on Wednesday.

Peter Dicks was arrested on a Louisiana warrant for “computer gambling”. The British businessman was traveling to New York for business meetings unrelated to online gaming.

Dicks was granted $50,000 bail by the New York Supreme Court but he had to surrender his passport and is not allowed to leave New York City until his extradition hearing, where Louisiana state officials will attempt to extradite him to face the charges. The extradition hearing will be heard on September 14.

“I really

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don’t doubt that Mr. Dicks will return,” said New York Supreme Court justice John Latella, when handing down his decision.

Peter Dicks was employed by SportingBet as a non-executive chairman in 2000. SportingBet is listed on the London Stock Exchange, with a stock market value of almost $2 billion. Trading in the company’s shares are suspended, at SportingBet’s request, due to the chance of panic selling.

Peter Dicks is the second online gaming personality arrested by US authorities in the last two months on charges related to the provision of online gambling to US residents. David Carruthers, a former executive of BetOnSports, is currently under house arrest facing charges of racketeering.

The turmoil surrounding the online gambling industry stems from ambiguous US legislation, specifically the 1961 Wire Act, which makes taking bets via telephone illegal. Another bill, which will outlaw the use of credit cards to fund online betting accounts, is facing the US Senate, having passed convincingly through the US House of Representatives.

The industry is uncertain whether the Louisiana charges Dicks is facing are related to SportingBet’s online sportsbetting activities, or whether all online gambling companies, including online casinos and poker rooms, are now at risk.

Needless to say, it is unlikely any online gaming executives are planning travel to the US in the near future.

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