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Party Gaming Founder Pleads Guilty

December 19, 2008

PartyGaming is the umbrella organization for a number of gambling portals, including the popular online casino PartyCasino. One of the founders of PartyGaming, Anurag Dikshit, has pleaded guilty before a United States District to a single count under the Wire Act. He will be paying a fine of $300 million in installments by September 2009. The first installment of $100 million has already been paid. This is as per a deal reached with the Department of Justice. As a result his prison term of two years has been deferred. Dikshit has also agreed to cooperate in the investigations into the violations of the Wire Act by PartyGaming. This was the first successful prosecution by the United States of an online gambling organization under the Wire Act. The reason Dikshit gave for pleading guilty was that he was advised that he was in violation of the law and could be found guilty at the end of a trial.

PartyGaming has issued a statement that has sought to clarify its own position as distinct from that of Dikshit, who owns 27% stock in the company and is its largest single stockholder. The statement has come from Investment Relations Director Peter Reynolds and Director of Corporate Communications John Shepherd. The statement said that PartyGaming was conducting its own negotiations with the United States Department of Justice, which had nothing to do with Dikshit’s deal. The statement further added that there has been good progress in the negotiations, which are at an advanced stage, and the final terms may be arrived at shortly. The statement however simultaneously cautioned that there is no guarantee that there will be a settlement, only a possibility. The statement also clarified two other issues. One was that the quantum of the settlement would be much lower than the $300 million that Dikshit paid. The other was the company or any of its directors would not be pleading guilty to any criminal act under any law.

As a result of the move by Dikshit and the statement by PartyGaming, the shares of PartyGaming gained value on the London Stock Exchange. Obviously the investors perceive these developments as cleaning up of old mess and clearing the way to an unshackled future. However the stock has a long way to go before it reaches the pre-UIGEA highs. PartyGaming had gone public in 2005 when Dikshit and the two other founders had sold a part of their stakes to the public. The two other founders are Ruth Parasol and her husband Russ DeLeon. All three became billionaires as a result of this public offering. It is believed that Ruth and DeLeon are also trying to arrive at a settlement with the Department of Justice

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