UK Betting PLC Launches new poker site - Saturday 12th of March 2005

British online betting firm UK betting Plc launched a new poker site on Friday, boosting its shares, as a new report predicted the global online poker market could double in 2005. Technological advances have made online gambling one of the few financial success stories for Internet businesses. "In the last year the arrival of broadband Internet connections has really made online gambling potentially a very, very big business," ukbetting Chairman Peter Dubens told Reuters.

Swedish, German and Italian versions of UK betting's sites are in the pipeline to broaden its reach, he added. Shares in the British small cap company were up 3.5 percent to 51-1/4 pence by 1330 GMT after it said it had launched poker and an online casino on its European gaming Web site www.goldbet.com. Gamblers lost $237 billion to gaming companies worldwide in 2004 and will be losing about $277 billion a year by 2008, said a report on Thursday by investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. BOOMING IN BRITAIN Online gambling has grown to $9.2 billion globally since its birth in 1995 and is forecast to produce a 22 percent compound annual growth rate between 2003 and 2008, driven in particular by poker, said the report. Sports betting represents 45 percent of total online gambling spending with other gaming representing 32 percent, but both could be overtaken by poker by 2008, if not earlier, it added.

Online gambling is becoming a booming industry in Britain, one of the few jurisdictions where it is welcomed. "We''re the market that's embracing online gambling," said DKW analyst Andrew Lee. In January the world's biggest online poker company, PartyGaming, said it was considering what would be one of London's largest share listings in over three years -- estimated at over 3 billion pounds ($5.72 billion). And in October, shares in Britain's Sportingbet -- the world's biggest online betting firm overall -- soared by over 50 percent following its acquisition of Paradise Poker, a rival to PartyGaming fronted by American supermodel Caprice. Online casino 888.com., which is also seen as another potential float, recently estimated the amount Britons are gambling over the Internet has increased more than six times in the last year. DKW's Lee predicted PartyGaming, Sportingbet and 888.com would in the future be the driving force behind a wave of consolidation.

"What I see going forward is massive consolidation in the market, and you''ll end up with some massive portals that offer poker, sports betting and gaming," he said. DKW said it remained buyers of betting firms William Hill and Paddy Power and sellers of Rank and Stanley Leisure

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