Sportingbet has offloaded its US business for $1 following the States’ ban on internet gambling.

The deal, with Antigua-based Jazette Enterprises, has allowed the firm to get rid of $13.2m in debt and save the $14m it would have cost to close the operations down.

Andrew McIver, Sportingbet’s chief executive designate, said the company would “now focus on developing its business in other key markets”.

We are saddened to have to dispose of such a fantastic business as a result of political actions in the US Congress,” he added.

Later today, US president Bush is expected to approve the country’s ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’, sneaked through Congress earlier this month on the back of port security legislation. It makes it illegal for banks and credit card companies to process internet bet payments from the US.

McIver said Sportingbet had been forced to sell a “highly profitable” business – one on which it has relied for most of its revenues.

In the year to 31 July, the company generated 62% of its earnings from US-based customers, 26% from European customers and 12% from the rest of the world.

It is also due to release its full year results next Tuesday – they will no doubt provide some clues about where the online gaming sector goes from here.