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While the French government presses ahead with plans to liberalise its online gaming market, with the Finance Committee of the Senate set to vote on legislation on January 19th, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has announced that it will consider mounting a legal challenge if the French gambling bill is passed in its current form.

The European Court of Justice continues to work through the mountain of referrals which it has received concerning gambling and gaming legislation in Member States, with cases involving Sweden and Austria appearing before the court tomorrow.

Having set out its own strategy for a liberal gaming market based on the pillars of local licensing and the recognition of licences from €˜white-listed' jurisdictions, the United Kingdom has announced the start of a consultation process to change the system in favour of secondary licensing of offshore operators in a move that could significantly boost tax revenues.

Senator Jon Kyl, one of the most outspoken critics of legalised online gambling in the United States, is facing increasing criticism for holding up the confirmation of six key Treasury department nominees in an apparent tit-for-tat over the delay in final enforcement of UIGEA.

The Pennsylvania legislature has approved a bill authorising an expansion of gaming to include casino table games such as poker, blackjack and roulette at the state's casinos, with Governor Ed Rendell expected to sign the bill into law Thursday.

The delay in the implementation of UIGEA in December has given Barney Frank a window of opportunity to legalise online gambling in the United States. But three European operators cut deals last year that they hope will give them a clear head start ahead of liberalisation.

Following an unsuccessful appeal to the Higher Administrative Court of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, 888 has been forced to block access to its Pacific Poker website by state residents.

Concluding a three year investigation by several United States law enforcement agencies including the IRS and the FBI, former BetonSports CEO David Carruthers was sentenced Friday to 33 months in prison for his involvement in the now defunct online gambling operator.

Sweden-based Mahjong Logic, developer and operator of the recently launched Mahjong Logic Network, has secured an online gambling licence in the white-listed jurisdiction of Isle of Man, having successfully satisfied the jurisdictions online gaming standards and player protection rules.

In a case that could have wider national implications, Canada's Loto-Quebec has reached an out-of-court settlement worth millions of dollars with problem gamblers in the province, following a class action lawsuit filed against the provincial state lottery operator nine years ago.

Lawyers are a cautious bunch. Given the precarious and contentious nature of the regulatory environment in so many countries, few of the world's leading law firms have really focussed on the online gaming sector. But with legal and regulatory issues again expected to take centre stage in 2010, we look at those that have to bring you a profile of the world's leading online gaming lawyers.