PartyGaming co-founder Anurag Dikshit surprised both the financial and gambling worlds when he announced that he would be selling off his shares of PartyGaming and donating the entirety of the proceeds to his favorite charity. Dikshit, who currently owns 28% of PartyGaming, recently listed 2/3 of his holdings on the London Stock Exchange, where PartyGaming is publically traded under the symbol PRTY.
Forbes Online is reporting that the 75 million shares currently for sale caused PRTY shares to plummet by 15.6% on Wednesday. Prior to the announcement shares were valued at $279, but the news dropped prices as low as $240. As of Thursday morning PRTY shares rebounded slightly and were going off at $250.
Dikshit’s remaining 35 million shares will go up for sale at a later date and, like this first batch, the profits of the sale will go towards Dikshit’s charity of choice, The Kusuma Trust. The organization provides financial support and education to children in India, Britain and Dikshit’s current home, Gibraltar. According to various reports, 100% of the profits from the sale will go to the charity with the entrepreneur keeping nothing for himself. Dikshit stands to profit $350 million on the sale of the first batch of shares.
This is just the latest move by Dikshit to distance himself from PartyGaming. Many may recall that Dikshit reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice in June in which he paid the government $300 million in fines related to violations of the Wire Act. Many believed Dikshit could have disputed the charges, as the Wire Act has traditionally applied to sports betting and not other gambling ventures like poker, but he opted to reach a settlement deal and plead guilty instead.
More recently, Dikshit’s proxy on the Board of Directors, Emilio Gomez, stepped down from his post on the board. While Gomez claimed he was leaving for personal reasons, one has to wonder if his departure was influenced by Dikshit’s decision to sell his holding in the company.
Forbes’ assessment of the situation also suggests that Dikshit is stepping down now to pave the way for PartyGaming to obtain a US online gaming license should the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) be overturned in the near future. Forbes suggests that Dikshit’s criminal record related to violations of the Wire Act would be a potential liability for the company when it came to American licensing.
Many believe PartyGaming is setting up to return to the US online gambling market as soon as the laws change. The company paid out a $105 million fine to the Department of Justice in June as part of a non-prosecution agreement with the States. While some suggest the company technically did not violate any laws while operating in the States, the move is expected to put the company in good standing should online gambling become regulated in the US.

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