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Poker News: April 30, 2007

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Paradise found on International Poker Network in May

One of the big moves scheduled for the merry month of May stretching ahead is that of Sportingbet's pioneering Paradise Poker operation, which will be shifting to Boss Media's International Poker Network in a prearranged deal that will see holding on to the brand, but both companies benefiting from the increased player liquidity.

Paradise and Boss Media already had a working relationship, and in February the two firms agreed the three-year deal which will see Paradise join the Boss network.

A spokesman for the company said that the software shift is to be completed in May, making the Boss network a very significant competitor in Europe with over 10 000 active, real-money players visiting each day.

"The strengthened partnership will enable the two companies to work together to bring second-to-none e-gaming products to the market," said Johan Berg, Boss Media Chief Executive Officer in a press release. "Our independence combined with size now makes Boss Media's partner-based poker network one of the most attractive on the market."

Launched in 1999, Paradise was one of the first major online poker sites, and dominated the sector until displaced by the likes of Party Poker, in the opinion of several industry observers due mainly to superior marketing investment.

In November 2004, the UK public company acquired Paradise and its proprietary software from Bonaire, a British Virgin Islands company, believed to be controlled by three Canadian technology buffs. By last reports, they remain Sportingbet's second largest shareholder, with 11.5 percent, but their identities are unknown.

With Sportingbet marketing know-how the site again rose in prominence in 2005 with its “Million Dollar Freeroll” draw card and other innovations, although it was never able to recapture the top spot. Then, in the last quarter of 2006 and in common with other UK public companies, the poker site became a victim of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

This caused a withdrawal from the US market and the loss of considerable custom through banning US players, with a GBP 55 million (US $107 million) write-off, the devastating consequence of losing such a large percentage of its players.

Ironically, in the 2 year period immediately preceding the UIGEA, Paradise Poker achieved an operating profit contribution of $150 million, which triggered a payout to Bonaire's investors of over GBP 20 million in terms of the original acquisition agreement.

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