Another Sportsbook Executive Arrested

September 15, 2006

Another chairman of another Londonbased online sports betting operation with a call center in Costa Rica was released on bond this week after his arrest in the United States.

The arrest of Peter Dicks of Sportingbet PLC comes less than two months after the arrest of London-based BetonSports’ executive David Carruthers. Soon after Carruthers’ arrest, BetonSports closed its Costa Rican call center in the San Pedro mall and laid off 1,200 workers (TT, July 21).

Dicks’ arrest last week prompted the Labor Ministry to launch a pre-emptive investigation and inspection to make sure Sportingbet’s approximately 1,000 workers would receive severance pay if the business ends up handing out pink slips, according to Eric Briones, head of the ministry’s legal inspection department.

“There were no violations … everyone was working normal, there were no layoffs,” Briones told The Tico Times.

The Tico Times was unable to obtain comments from company officials this week; during a Tico Times visit to the company’s call center in the western San José suburb of Santa Ana Tuesday afternoon, it appeared to be business as usual, but a reporter and photographer were not allowed past the front gate.

U.S. Customs officials arrested Dicks Sept. 6 following his arrival on a flight from London. Customs officials discovered an outstanding warrant for his arrest issued by the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division, Queens District Attorney spokesman Kevin Ryan told the Associated Press.

The warrant charged Dicks, who lives in London, with gambling by computer – a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine, Dwight Robinette Jr., a Senior Trooper with the Louisiana State Police, told AP.

Dicks, who was released on a $50,000 bond under conditions that he surrender his passport and stay in New York, was expected to attend a hearing yesterday to consider his transfer to Louisiana.

“Dicks intends to vigorously contest this,” Sportingbet said in a statement. Louisiana authorities said more arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the case, but they declined to provide more information.

Sportingbet PLC’s shares were suspended after Dicks’ arrest. The shares plummeted 41% Monday after trading resumed, Bloomberg News reported. Sportingbet said in a statement that the company “continues to operate as normal.”

Dicks’ arrest also comes after the July 26 arrest of Houshang Pourmohamad in California. Pourmohamad was arrested for his connection to betheduck.com, an online gaming enterprise operating out of Costa Rica that allegedly was an illegal gambling and money laundering scheme (TT, Aug. 25).

 

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