Anurag Dikshit, a co-founder of Party Gaming (owner of Party Poker), pleaded guilty to “illegal web betting” charges brought on by the United States. He made his plea deal on Tuesday with the United States Department of Justice and agreed to pay the US government $300 million for violating the Wire Act of 1961.
The $300 million are to be paid in three $100 million installments and Dikshit has already made the first payment. The next $100 million payment is due in March and the last one will be due in June. Dikshit will still retain the largest ownership stake in Party Gaming and Party Poker at 27%, but he may face up to two years in prison for violating the Wire Act.
In addition to the fines owed and possible prison Dikshit is facing, he also had to post a $15 million bond and agree to help the United States in further online gambling investigations. His travel has been limited to Europe, his native country of India, and New York City for legal reasons.
The plea made by Dikshit marks the first time the US has held someone accountable for violating the Wire Act online when it didn’t pertain to sports betting. Dikshit agreed with the handling of the case and said of his actions, “I came to believe there was a high probability it was in violation of US laws.”
Dikshit will know on Tuesday whether or not he will be going to jail when Judge Jed S. Rakoff makes the final ruling. Party Gaming officials are optimistic that Dikshit won’t have to do any jail time as they publicly stated, “The Company believes that any such settlement is unlikely to include a criminal plea on the part of the company or any director.”
Dikshit is not the only Party Gaming co-owner the United States is targeting since both Russ DeLeon and Ruth Parasol are also being investigated. Parasol and DeLeon have separate 14% stakes in Party Gaming and there is speculation that they might try to make a deal with the United States Department of Justice just like Dikshit did.
Things have been business as usual at Party Poker despite the troubles of the Party Gaming ownership. The room is currently offering members the chance to win $5,000 prize packages for the Irish Poker Championship. Stars such as Mike Sexton, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, and Padraig Parkinson are set to be in attendance at the first major European poker tournament of 2009.