Party Gaming and Bwin merger (update)

Online gambling group has a solution for US market entry

Speaking to journalists in a post-financial results conference Friday, Party Gaming CEO Jim Ryan addressed the question of obstacles to his company's re-entry to the US market, assuming that market is legalised.

The main hurdle - a multi-million dollar settlement with the US Department of Justice over pre-UIGEA activity - has already been overcome but the status of founders and significant shareholders Russ De Leon and Ruth Parasol has been raised in the wake of the merger agreement between Party Gaming and Bwin last week.

The husband and wife team that founded Party Gaming with IT whiz Dikshit Anurag has not followed in Anurag's footsteps in admitting guilt and paying a large fine for alleged US illegal activity.

Ryan pointed out that the company has reached agreement with the duo in the event that their stance presents a problem to the company in regard to re-entering the United States market. He noted that the merger agreement with Bwin had included a provision that if a shareholder presented a problem regarding a licensing application, the company could require that shareholder to liquidate their equity in the company.

“There have always been questions about Party Gaming and our position in this regard," said Ryan. "But we have now closed the loop and I think we are very well positioned."

Ryan went on to sound an optimistic note on the future of the online US gambling market, noting that legislative moves were looking promising, and pointing to the advantages that a legalised market could bring to US tax coffers, land-based gambling groups, the players themselves and online gambling groups that were able to meet the regulatory requirements that will be imposed if the market is legalised.

He noted catalysts for change in the US such as the efforts of Harrah's and GTech, whose pursuit of the possibility of a legalised market has spurred other land entities to explore possible routes to online action and partnerships that could prove useful. He also observed that Party Gaming's acquisition of the World Poker Tour has led to negotiations with a significant number of US land corporates on running WPT events, opening doors for wider discussions on US market opportunities.

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