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News the arrest of Sportingbet chairman Peter Dicks may not lead to a court case has caused a sustained rally in the UK-based online gambling sites shares.

Stock closed at £1.53 Wednesday, and at time of writing Friday had climbed to £1.85.

Dicks was collared by New York customs officials who spotted his name on a Louisiana warrant. He appeared in 10-minute New York criminal court hearing yesterday. Reuters reports he faces charges of "gambling by computer" in the state. Online gambling is illegal in the US, though companies have found ways around legislation.

Investors were cheered by news yesterday he may not be extradited to Louisiana to face the allegations, which could impinge on Sportingbet's US operations. The office of New York Governor George Pataki told the court they were withdrawing a warrant neccessary to transfer Dicks to Louisiana.

Dicks resigned immediately after leaving his hearing.

In a statement, Sportingbet said: "Further to its recent announcements regarding Mr. Peter Dicks, Sportingbet confirms that, with great reluctance ... the board accepted the resignation of Mr. Dicks as independent non-executive chairman of Sportingbet with immediate effect."

Judge Gene Lopez adjourned the case until September 28. Dicks is free to return to the UK.

Investors in online betting are twitchy about legal action in the US, particularly since Betonsports was forced to shut its Caribbean-based operation because of proceedings against it and its former chief executive. ®

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