800 000 Italian players in People's Poker Network

The UK-listed online and land gambling group Leisure and Gaming plc, which has extensive Italian betting interests through its Betshop subsidiary, has launched real money online poker.

The group has partnered with Microgame SpA's People's Poker Network, which offers a large range and number of tournaments to attract players. The deal gives L&G access to some 800 000 Italian poker players.

Poker operations in Italy will be initially offered through tournaments in compliance with Italian legislation. L&G made play-for-fun services available to players in September this year, and the ancillary poker tutorials generated good levels of interest and participation by players.

The Italian Senate approved legislation on Tuesday 18 November 2008, allowing for up to 3 000 new betting shop licenses to be made available in the New Year with a starting bid level of Euro 85 000 per unit. In the opinion of L&G directors this will not affect the [Betshop] business as the estate of betting shops is well established and has been stable for the last 12 months.

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