An American company says it has developed software that should make online gamblers feel more secure about the fairness of card, dice and other games of chance they play online.

Quixotic Solutions says its Honest Gaming Software it is the piece that's been missing in debates about the regulation of internet gambling. The online gambling business is worth $1bn a year and will grow to $5bn by 2005, financial firm Bear, Stearns & Co estimates.

Three of the top 10 entertainment websites visited in December by UK users were gambling sites. US-based lottery giveaway site won the third most popular position with 421,000 unique visitors out of a total of 12.6 million, according to research firm Jupiter MMXI.

Honest Gaming allegedly provides protection against cheating by the companies that run internet gambling sites. Most sites serving the online gambling community have placed their servers outside the US, where gambling is heavily regulated, to avoid legal complications.

The software also allows for a third party, including a government regulator, a chance to spot monitor, and includes other functions that would control gambling by children and gambling addicts, Davis said.

Last July a somewhat doomed bill to prohibit most forms of gambling on the internet passed throught the US Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives. A spokeswoman for Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte, one of the sponsors of the gambling bill, said the bill's drafters would review the company's proposal, but she didn't give it much of an endorsement.

Goodlatte has never felt regulation was an answer, said his spokeswoman Michelle Semones. "He feels it would be impossible because not every country is going to get on board with the same regulations. Prohibiting it is the only way to control internet gambling."