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6/4/2007
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Overseas Online Poker Company 'Cooperating' With U.S. Inquiry

PartyGaming says it has not allowed Americans to bet through its real-money sites since U.S. ban took effect.

An overseas online betting company announced Monday that it is responding to a U.S. Department of Justice inquiry, which appears to be based on activities before the Internet gambling prohibition took effect.

PartyGaming issued a statement on its Web site indicating that the company stopped allowing U.S. customers to play on its real money sites and prevented them from making deposits since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) took effect in October 2006. The company said it is responding to a U.S. inquiry, which appears to be aimed at activities prior to the enactment of the ban.

The company said it supports regulated online betting through reputable operators.

"This remains the right approach to this industry sector," PartyGaming explained in a prepared statement.

The company pointed out that since the UIGEA's enactment, U.S. law enforcement agencies have taken action against third parties that were involved in the online gaming sector before October 2006.

"This has created some uncertainty as to what actions, if any, U.S. law enforcement agencies may take against industry participants," PartyGaming stated in a news release.

"Against this background, the company initiated discussions with the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and is in the process of voluntarily responding to a request for information issued by that office."

PartyGaming said it is too soon to tell where the discussions are headed. The company is based in Gibraltar, which is a British overseas territory.

U.S. authorities have arrested executives of companies claiming they were involved in online gaming among U.S. citizens before the ban was enacted.

The World Trade Organization has received complaints against the United States, including one from a WTO-appointed panel, for allegedly violating earlier rulings regarding online gambling. The islands of Antigua and Barbuda, a Caribbean nation, complained that the U.S. online gambling ban has hurt the economy.

Critics of the ban say it promotes real-life gambling operations, like Las Vegas casinos, instead of protecting Americans.

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