London - Hilton Group, the hotels and betting company, is expected to announce plans this week to launch an internet casino as part of its UKpound 100 million e-commerce investment programme.
Hilton, which owns the Ladbrokes chain of betting shops as well as 27 Ladbrokes casinos, is set to announce details of its online casino which punters will be able to access through a Ladbrokes.com portal website. They will also be able to use the existing Ladbrokes online sports betting service.
Ladbrokes has been working on an online casino operation since February but has been keen to secure approval from the Gaming Board, which regulates gaming activity in the UK, before going public with its plans.
The board is understood to have backed Ladbrokes’ move although, in the past, they have been concerned about traditional “bricks-and-mortar” casino companies offering online versions as well. To date, Stanley Leisure is the only other casino group to have both internet and traditional casinos.
The site will be accessible from everywhere in the world except the US, which has a prohibitive attitude to online gaming. Ladbrokes, which has a casino licence in Colorado, has secured approval from the Colorado gaming authorities for its website and given American authorities assurance that US citizens will not be able to play.
Initially there will be seven games available online, including favourites such as roulette, but this is expected to increase once the site becomes established. Next year, it is anticipated that punters will be able to play virtual poker and virtual roulette.