888, Bwin.Party Surge on New Jersey Gambling Plan: London Mover

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc and 888 Holdings Plc led a surge among gaming companies in London after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’s willing to allow online gambling if certain conditions are met.

Bwin.Party rose as much as 19 percent, the biggest intraday increase since December 2011, while 888 Holdings gained as much as 11 percent. The two companies led advancing stocks in the FTSE All-Share Index, while Playtech Ltd., a gaming software developer, and betting firm Sportech Plc were also among the top five gainers on the index.

Christie said yesterday he would support a 10-year trial for online betting in the state to see whether it helps struggling Atlantic City casinos. He vetoed a bill and sent it back to lawmakers with recommended changes including the time limit, an increase in the tax on Internet bets and more money to help problem gamblers.

“This is a better than expected outcome and paves the way for online poker in New Jersey by September this year,” Simon French, an analyst at Panmure Gordon in London, wrote in a note today. He has a buy recommendation on all four companies.

New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said he expects the changes to be approved by the state Assembly this month and by the Senate in March, paving the way for a signature from the Republican governor and for online bets to be taken in September.

Shares of Caesars Entertainment Corp., the largest operator in Atlantic City with four casinos, rose 19 percent yesterday in New York.

Bwin.Party was up 15 percent at 134 pence at 9:18 a.m., extending its gain this year to 21 percent. 888 Holdings traded at 127.5 pence, up 10 percent. The stock has more than doubled in 12 months.

Playtech, which said yesterday its fourth-quarter earnings rose as William Hill Online delivered record revenue for the company, gained as much as 5.8 percent in London. Sportech advanced as much as 6.3 percent.

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