Party Gaming share sell off raises speculation

Is the sell-off linked to Party Gaming's US ambitions?

The decision by Party Gaming founder Anurag Dikshit to sell off his remaining shares in the company not only caused a 12 percent dip in the share price this week; it ignited speculation as to the 36-year-old technology guru's motivation.

The most popular supposition appears to be linked to the possibility that the United States may legalise and regulate online gambling at some stage in the mid-term future, propelled by legislative initiatives to do away with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and instead reap much-needed tax revenues from the popular pastime.

Industry observers reason that in such a scenario the requirements to obtain a licence, especially by a non-US company, would almost certainly demand a clean criminal record by company, management and major shareholders. Dikshit's guilty plea to a count of illegal gambling, and his agreement to pay in $300 million in December last year could make his financial stake in the Party Gaming group a burden for the company, hence the move to sell.

That Party Gaming has its sights on the US market should it liberalise, is clear from its recent preparedness to pay out $105 million in a 'no prosecution' agreement with the US Department of Justice.

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