The Ritz Hotel's online casino has been shut down amid growing fears over the crackdown on internet gambling in the US and Europe.

"In light of the current confusion and inconsistency in online gaming legislation worldwide, the owners of The Ritz Club London Online have, regretfully, decided to close the site to new customers with immediate effect," the firm said in a statement on the site.

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Ritz Club London, set up to develop its web, mobile and TV gaming businesses.

This week has seen a series of reactions by UK gaming firms to a clampdown by US prosecutors, kickstarted by the arrest of former BetonSports chief executive David Carruthers in July.

Empire Online indicated yesterday that it had put its acquisitions strategy on hold, while World Gaming has announced the resignation of non-executive chairman James Grossman and independent director Clare Roberts, with both saying they were unable to carry out their jobs in the current climate.

World Gaming had been in negotiations with larger firm Sportingbet over a £50 million plus takeover before the arrest of Sportingbet's chairman Peter Dicks in New York earlier this month.

According to Reuters, shares in UK gaming firms have lost a combined £2.4bn in value since Carruthers' arrest.

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Published 27 September, 2006 by Richard Maven

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