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Online gaming companies have having a grand old time as late since US law makers gave the industry an unlikely Christmas surprise.
On December 23, the US Department of Justice announced that its ban on online gambling now applied only to sports betting. It is no longer a wholesale ban on online gambling.
According to analysts the decision clears the way for legalisation of online poker and casino games on a state-by-state basis.
“There now appears to be no Federal law which would prevent the operation of non-sporting gambling,” Numis Securities analyst Ivor Jones said in a note to clients.
He added: “This is a major change in the position of the US DoJ. At the very least it clears the way for State-level online poker legislation.”
“Potentially it opens the way for gambling services to be provided from offshore and this may encourage the US Congress to legislate before the floodgates open.”
Jones advised that there may be no need for a federal law explicitly to make the licensing of inter-State online poker possible.
He thinks that all that may be needed is for a State to license online poker and it would be able to accept players from other states where online gambling is lawful, or not illegal.
The DoJ’s change of heart may be a massive boon to the online gambling industry which was all but dead in the water in the U.S in late 2006 when the government introduced the ban on all financial transactions linked to online gambling.
The news prompted a sector-wide rally with Bwin.Party (LON:BPTY) and Playtech (LON:PTEC) both gaining over 20% since the DoJ announcement. Meanwhile 888 Holdings (LON:888) shares also performed well advancing around 15%.
Ladbrokes (LON:LAD) and William Hill (LON:WMH) have also gained around 7%.
According to Panmure Gordon the biggest beneficiary of the regulatory u-turn will be 888 Holdings.
888 Holdings has a commercial relationship with Caesars Entertainment and the broker says the DoJ decision is particularly pertinent given the state of Nevada passed online poker regulation last Thursday and licences expected to be granted in the Spring.
Panmure has a ‘buy’ recommendation for 888 with a 63p a share price target, which implies some 57% upside from the current price of 40p a share.
The broker said the move by the DoJ would also remove the legacy legal risk from operating casino and poker websites in the US prior to October 2006.
Bwin.Party also has agreements with two Las Vegas operators, Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts.
In a note to clients today, Daniel Stewart analyst Michael Campbell said that BPTY is well positioned to benefit from State and/or Federal legislation because of these agreements in the US market.
Daniel Stewart’s analysts have a ‘buy’ recommendation on the stock with a 256p target, which implies a potential uplift of around 60% from the current price of 160p.
Given the potential for new business for online gambling in the United States this de-regulation of the industry could be one of the big stories for the leisure and gaming industry this year.
Danske Licens Spil and bwin.party launch online games - 3rd January 2012...
Online gaming group bwin.party has launched online poker and casino games in Denmark for Danske Licens Spil, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Danske Spil.
Danske Spil is is one of the largest betting and gaming organisations in Europe with DKK10.3bn of turnover in 2010.
It is owned by the Danish government (80%), Sports Confederation of Denmark (10%) and Danish Gymnastics and Sports Associations (10%).
A statement by bwin.party co-chief executives Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger said: "Building on our recent announcement regarding deals with both MGM and Boyd in the US market, this is another important milestone in the execution of our stated strategy that is focused on securing leadership positions in regulated and to-be-regulated markets.
"We are delighted that DLS has recognised our expertise and high standards of business practice and we look forward to building a market-leading customer offer for the Danish consumer."
At 8:30am: (LON:BPTY) share price was -3.85p at 160.15p
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