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The chairman of UK-based gambling firm Sportingbet is due to appear in court on Thursday after he was detained by US authorities.

The arrest of Peter Dicks, 64, follows the July detention of David Carruthers on racketeering charges. Curruthers was then chief exec of rival online gambling firm BetOnSports. US authorities regard most forms of internet gaming and gambling as illegal.

Details of what charges, if any, are to be preferred against Dicks remain unclear.

Share trading in Sportingbet stock was suspended pending clarification of the situation. Sportingbet said Dicks was visiting the US for unspecified reasons unconnected with its business. Dick's detention is likely the result of US moves to tackle internet gambling.

Although online gambling is a growing $12bn a year business in the US, the operation of the business is said to be in violation of US law against placing interstate bets over the phone.

US politicians are looking at tightening internet gambling laws but prosecutors have already taken action.

The announcement of the suspension of Sportingbet shares created jitters among investors in other gambling stock with shares in Partypoker slipping by 11 per cent, while stock in 888 Holdings slid almost 17 per cent, the BBC reports.

News of Dick's detention came shortly after Sportingbet confirmed it was in talks with smaller rival World Gaming about a possible £56.6m acquisition. ®

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