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By | John Oates 30th October 2006 11:27

Poker sites hold merger talks

Surviving the US ban

Partygaming and 888 Holdings, which runs poker and casino sites, are in talks about a possible merger.

Both listed companies have watched their share price collapse after the US government banned them from providing services to US citizens.

A statement to the London Stock Exchange says: "The board of 888 notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it has had various preliminary discussions with third parties following suspension of its US activities.

"There can be no certainty that these discussions will proceed to an offer being made for the company or indeed any other action."

Gambling and gaming websites are desperately searching for ways to survive after the US government effectively removed the vast majority of their customers. Share prices in the sector have collapsed so consolidation or takeovers from private equity is very likely.

Meanwhile, the UK's own cheerleader for gambling in all its glorious forms Tessa "the Don" Jowell said last week the US laws are like Prohibition - when the US banned booze. Jowell said the outright ban would create the equivalent of speakeasies - the illegal drinking dens of the 1920s.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and Gambling is hosting a conference this week on the subject. ®

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