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Online gambling in the UK has grown 566 per cent since 2003 and the fast growth is mainly due to a big increase in the number of women betting online. In the early 90s, women represented just four per cent of gamblers but now 20 per cent of British women visit an online casino or betting site more than once a year.

The survey was carried out by 888.com - an online casino owned by Cassava Enterprises. Gibraltar-based Cassava and PartyPoker are both considering floating on the London Stock Exchange. PartyPoker has appointed Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and Investec to look at its options.

Online casinos are seen as a big money opportunity although there are concerns they might suffer from changes to the tax regime in Europe. The US authorities consider cross-border gambling illegal but the WTO recently ruled in favour of such sites.

Earlier this month the Isle of Man changed tax rules to encourage more gambling websites to set up on the island. Gibraltar, with its equally friendly tax regime, has also seen a boom in online bookies and casinos.

Online poker is one of the biggest money pots on the web - sites bring $2m to $2.5m a day. In the course of a year more than $16bn is bet on internet poker games. New technology has helped push Britain up the gambling tables - the UK is now the fourth largest gambling nation in the world.

More detail available from AFP here. ®

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