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ONLINE CASINO FOR POKER GIANT

Empire Online diversifies

In the build-up to its recent London listing, poker marketer Empire Online hinted that it may be in the market for an online casino, and that ambition became reality this week.

The company, which owns Empire Poker, disclosed that it has agreed to buy the Playtech-powered online casino site Club Dice.com and poker site Noble Poker.com for US$ 40 million. It is understood that Club Dice boasts a gambling base of some 70 000 active, real money players.

The Club Dice acquisition embraces three casino brands and one bingo brand, including Monaco Gold Casino.com, Carnival Casino.com and YouBingo in addition to the main Club Dice Casino.com brand.

Noble Poker is the largest member of Playtechs emerging iPoker network, and will be further marketed by Empire Online.

CEO Noam Lanir says he wants his company to be less reliant on any one technology provider. In Club Dice and Noble Poker we have bought running businesses which achieve a strategic objective of diversifying our base of technology providers, he said.

Empire Poker provided around 4 percent of industry leader Party Gamings 2004 operating profit, but is thought to provide as much as 20 percent of its liquidity, according to analysts.

It could take another three months to complete the deal, as due diligence and shareholder approval formalities have yet to be finalised.

Analysts speculated last month that it would make sense for Party Gaming to buy up Empire Online due to its high contribution possibilities.
 
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