British Gambling Exec Resigns, Free to Leave New York

The chairman of British online gambling company Sportingbet PLC, who was arrested last week after New York customs officials discovered his name on a Louisiana warrant charging him with illegal online gambling, resigned on Thursday, the company 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," the company said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Dicks appeared in state Criminal Court in Queens on Thursday, when Judge Gene Lopez adjourned his case until Sept. 28.

The court appearance came a day after New York Gov. George Pataki received a formal request from Dicks and his attorney, Barry Slotnick, to withdraw a warrant the governor had signed that would allow Dicks' extradition to Louisiana.

Slotnick said he and his client argued that Louisiana's request for extradition "is inappropriate and that Peter Dicks has not committed any crimes there or anywhere. He hasn't been in Louisiana for 20 years."

On Thursday in court, Dicks was informed that the governor had withdrawn the warrant. Restrictions on Dicks' $50,000 bail that barred him from leaving New York also were lifted.

"There is nothing pending in terms of any accusations against Dicks in the state of New York," Slotnick told The Associated Press, adding that Dicks was now free to travel back to London, where he lives.

When he's back in court later this month, Slotnick said, "it's our hope that the (Louisiana) warrant at that time will be totally withdrawn."

Slotnick said Dicks is appearing in court New York on Sept. 28 only "because Louisiana is requesting his presence. But the only one who can order him to Louisiana is Gov. Pataki."

Dicks was arrested at New York's Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 6 following his arrival on a flight from England. Customs, performing a routine name check, discovered he had an outstanding warrant issued by the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division.

Last Friday, after his New York arrest, acting Justice John Latella released him on $50,000 bail but ordered him to surrender his passport and stay in the New York metropolitan area during the extradition process.

The Louisiana warrant was issued in May, charging Dicks with gambling by computer, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

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

Dicks, 64, is the second executive of a British Internet sports-betting company to be held in the U.S.

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. He has been non-executive director at Sportingbet since 2000.

Sportingbet shares soared more than 25 percent to close at 192 pence ($3.60) on the London Stock Exchange. The stock had fallen sharply after Dicks was detained.