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updated 9/8/2006 3:18:13 PM ET 2006-09-08T19:18:13

The chairman of British online gambling company Sportingbet PLC has been detained in New York on a fugitive warrant, two months after the chief executive of BetOnSports PLC was arrested in the United States on racketeering charges.

Peter Dicks was arrested at Kennedy International Airport following his arrival on a flight from England, Queens district attorney spokesman Kevin Ryan said Thursday.

Customs, performing a routine name check around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, discovered he had an outstanding warrant issued by the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division.

Police officers with the Port Authority, which runs the airport, took Dicks into custody, where he remained Thursday awaiting arraignment in a state court.

The May warrant charged Dicks, who lives in London, with gambling by computer, a felony punishable by up to five years year in prison and a $25,000 fine, said Senior Trooper Dwight Robinette Jr., spokesman for Louisiana State Police.

Robinette said Louisiana authorities intend to bring Dicks back to stand trial in St. Landry Parish, where the warrant for his arrest was signed.

Robinette said more arrest warrants have issued in connection with the case but he declined to provide more information. He said authorities in January launched an investigation into the online gambling industry that involved Sportingbet.

He would not say if other online gambling companies have been targeted by Louisiana authorities.

Shares in the company were suspended by the London Stock Exchange at Sportingbet’s request.

Dicks, 64, is the second executive of a British Internet sports-betting company to be held in the U.S. after David Carruthers, former chief executive officer of BetOnSports PLC, was arrested in July. The company fired Carruthers, who remains under house arrest in the St. Louis area awaiting trial, and closed its U.S. Web sites.

The founder of Abingdon PLC, a private equity firm, Dicks is also a director at Nasdaq-listed Polar Technology Trust PLC and Standard Microsystems Corp., and has been non-executive director at Sportingbet since 2000.

Shares of rival online gambling company PartyGaming PLC closed down 9.8 percent in London trading following Dicks’ detainment, while Empire Online lost 4.5 percent.

Separately, Sportingbet said it is in the early stage of talks about a possible takeover of World Gaming PLC in an all-share deal worth about 56 million pounds ($105.8 million).

Sportingbet’s potential offer for World Gaming, based on its own closing price of 244 pence ($4.61) on Wednesday, would value its competitor at 104 pence ($1.97) a share.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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