Sandpit picks up first brief from UltimateBet, the US online poker brand, has appointed Sandpit, the collection of communications specialists operating under the FCB London umbrella, to handle its UK launch.

The company plans to put £4 million behind an on- and offline campaign, to capitalise on the upcoming relaxation of Britain's gaming laws.

The assignment, awarded with the help of the AAR, is the first major business Sandpit has won. The operation has been developing as an alternative to the conventional agency model. It encompasses a graphic-design team, illustrators, web designers and an interactive TV operation.

All elements operate as independent businesses, but come together to pitch for major accounts in order to give prospects access to a diverse array of creative talent. Media buying for the account will be handled by FCB.

UltimateBet's arrival in the UK coincides with the anticipated rapid expansion of the country's gambling market, which is currently worth more than £60 billion a year. Within that, the online gaming market is estimated to be growing by 10 per cent a month.

Jonathan Rigby, FCB's managing director, said: "UltimateBet sees the UK as a natural market because of the opportunities afforded by its massive growth."

UltimateBet will compete with online gaming operations such as Paradise Poker, whose advertising is fronted by the model Caprice.