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Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is warning investment banks to avoid flotations in the booming online poker sector.
Well-placed sources say Skadden has advised a number of Wall Street banks not to underwrite online gaming IPOs due to concerns that internet betting may be illegal in the US.
Most US investment banks, including Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch, are already steering clear because of fears that actions may be brought against them for aiding and abetting illegal transactions.
The situation remains unclear. The Federal Wire Act prohibits the use of telephone communication to facilitate any betting on a "sporting" event. But the US Department of Justice has adopted a conservative approach and considers all forms of online gaming as illegal.
Other sources argued that banks should realise that the risk is minimal, but conceded that there may be concerns over reputational risk.