All bets are off on making money gambling on the internet; in the US anyway after Congress banned banks and credit card companies from making payments to online gambling sites. President Bush is expected to sign the measures into law. The news immediately wiped billions off the market value of companies like Partygaming plc, Sportingbet, 888 or BWin.
Online gaming exploded last year, with a series of company flotations in London, which has become the industry’s corporate centre. Most of their revenue comes from American gamblers, but because of the ambiguities of US law on the subject until now, the firms’ American operations were located offshore in places like Costa Rica and Antigua to avoid possible prosecution.
One British asset manager said the move by congress was “protectionist, and the WTO have said you can’t do that”, but it seems American casino giants and others were fed up with seeing rivers of cash flow out of the country, and lobbied hard for the new law.