BetOnSports aims to negotiate

BetOnSports, the AIM-listed internet bookmaker indicted in the US on fraud and racketeering charges, has told prosecutors that it wants to negotiate a settlement of the civil and criminal cases it faces.

The company, whose shares have been suspended since the arrest of its chief executive, David Carruthers, in Dallas in July, has instructed lawyers to discuss a settlement in an effort to draw a line under the crisis that threatens to bring it down.

At a hearing this week at the US District Court in St Louis, Missouri, Jeffrey Demerath, BetOnSports’s lawyer, told Judge Carol Jackson that the company was willing to enter discussions on the charges, and the Assistant US Attorney, Michael Fagan, responded by telling the court: “I think we can resolve matters.”

The judge agreed to extend a temporary restraining order preventing the company from taking US bets until October 16 to allow the parties to negotiate. Neither side would comment after the hearing.

BetOnSports and associated companies and individuals, including Mr Carruthers, were indicted in July on charges ranging from wire fraud to racketeering and tax evasion. Prosecutors say that the company violated US law by allowing American punters to place bets over the phone and internet.

The internet gambling sector suffered a further blow this month when Peter Dicks, then the chairman of Sportingbet, was arrested in New York on gambling charges, and last week the joint chief executives of Bwin, the Austrian operator, were detained in France.