Sportingbet says chairman detained in U.S.

Thursday, September 7th 2006, 10:02 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Sportingbet, a gambling Web site owner, said its chairman has been detained in the U.S., two months after the chief executive of BetOnSports PLC was arrested in the United States on racketeering charges.

The company said a hearing has been scheduled for Sportingbet Chairman Peter Dicks, though no further details were given. Sportingbet declined to specify where in the U.S. Dicks was being held.

Shares in the company were suspended by the London Stock Exchange at Sportingbet's request.

Dicks, 64, is the second executive of a U.K. Internet sports-betting company to be held in the U.S. after David Carruthers, former chief executive officer of BetOnSports PLC, was arrested in July at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The company fired Carruthers, who remains under house arrest in the St. Louis area awaiting trial, and closed its U.S. operations.

The founder of Abingdon PLC, a private equity firm, Dicks is also a director at Nasdaq-listed Polar Technology Trust PLC and Standard Microsystems Corp., and has been non-executive director at Sportingbet since 2000.

Shares of rival online betting company PartyGaming PLC were down 8.5 percent following Dick's detainment, while Empire Online lost 6.6 percent to 67.75 pence ($1.28).

Separately, Sportingbet said it is in the early stage of talks about a possible recommended takeover of World Gaming PLC in an all-share deal worth about 56 million pounds ($105.8 million).

Sportingbet's potential offer for World Gaming, based on its own closing price of 244 pence ($4.61) on Wednesday, would value its competitor at 104 pence ($1.97) a share.