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MSN UK partners gambling site

Microsoft's UK portal has inked a two-year marketing deal to provide advertising and promotions for an online casino, Web-based gambling company Gaming Internet said Friday.

Microsoft's UK portal has inked a two-year marketing deal to provide advertising and promotions for an online casino, Web-based gambling company Gaming Internet said Friday.

Under the agreement, MSN.co.uk is expected in mid-June to begin linking to international gaming site Harrods Casino, a joint venture between Gaming Internet and Harrods Online subsidiary Sporting Resort. MSN.co.uk will also provide banner advertising on its site and a promotional page.

MSN could not immediately be reached for comment.

Online gambling has caught the attention of everyone from Web users to legislators, especially in the United States.

Nevada lawmakers passed a bill recently that will eventually clear the way for Internet gambling run by casinos in the state. The US government, however, argues that online gambling is illegal under a 1961 federal act that prohibits bets placed via phone lines and other wired devices.

In contrast, the United Kingdom has welcomed online gambling. Marc Falcone, an analyst with Bear Stearns, said that stance is exemplified by the UK government's recent proposal to eliminate its betting tax and bring offshore casinos back to the mainland.

"The UK is far more accepting and advanced in their Internet gaming environment than the US," Falcone said. "Internet gaming can be a powerful business, particularly using significant brand names--that's what we expect in the US."

Harrods Online, which stems from London's famous department store, offers people a chance to place online bets with games that include blackjack, video poker, roulette and keno as well as with slot machines. The site restricts anyone under 18 from participating and warns people to be wary of violating the laws of the country that they reside in or are a citizen of.

"The strategy of focusing on established, quality brands for our online casino business is key to the success of gambling in a secure and reliable environment," David Sanderson, chief executive of Gaming Internet, said in a statement. "We look forward to working with Harrods and MSN in broadening the reach of a high-quality gaming experience over the coming months."

Gaming Internet operates Web-based casino gaming and entertainment.