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Sportingbet Acquires

29 October 2004

LONDON – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Sportingbet Plc (LSE: SBT.L), the world's largest publicly traded online betting, gambling and gaming company, announces the acquisition of, a leader in the fast-growing online poker sector, creating the first global online poker, sports betting and casino operator. The deal brings Sportingbet's customer base to more than two million players and provides a popular online poker product to serve the rapidly growing online poker market in the United States and worldwide. is the world's third largest online poker operator with a market share of approximately 10 percent.

Sportingbet acquired for an initial consideration of $297.5 million, creating the world's largest online gaming business. Sportingbet itself today reported turnover of $2,620 million and an operating profit before goodwill and exceptional costs of $39.57 million for the 16 months to July 31, 2004. Sportingbet operates more than 30 brands in 200 countries across the world including its flagship brand,

"Sportingbet's acquisition of has a significant impact on both our company and the online betting, gambling and gaming market," said Alex Czajkowski, marketing director, Sportingbet Plc Americas Region. "Like Sportingbet's, is a strong brand with a large and loyal customer base."'s business model benefits from high operational gearing, due to its small, predominately fixed cost base. Operating costs relate largely to processing fees; personnel and IT costs are low relative to rake and tournament fee income. Discretionary marketing spend is the single largest cost incurred by Paradise. The financial model has historically resulted in Paradise generating both high operating margins (57 percent) and strong cash flow. In August and September 2004, Paradise's aggregate monthly rake and tournament fee income was $6.6 million and $7.0 million respectively. has over 721,000 registered customers and 97,000 active players. With strong site security, policies and independent auditors, it is a respected brand focused on integrity and quality. In addition, regularly offers free tournaments where players can win a seat at some of the world's biggest televised poker tournaments.

Poker is one of the world's most popular card games, with an estimated 50 to 80 million players in the United States alone. The game has gone mainstream in recent years with the emergence of televised poker tournaments on ESPN, Bravo and other major cable networks, and become more popular with the presence of Hollywood players such as Ben Affleck, Matthew Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carrie Fisher. Online poker has exploded in the last two years and remains a rapidly growing, dynamic and sustainable market.

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