Leading online gaming operator PartyGaming has announced that its long-running discussions with America’s Department of Justice could soon be at an end with any settlement unlikely to involve a criminal plea by the company or any of its directors.
The London-listed firm behind online poker room PartyPoker.com initiated talks with American authorities 18 months ago over uncertainties regarding its legal status in the United States for the period prior to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. Before this piece of legislation virtually banned online gambling, the American market had accounted for 80 percent of the company's revenues as it had allowed US-based players to play and make deposits on its real-money sites.
“The company’s discussions with the Department of Justice have made good progress and it is currently negotiating the final terms of a possible settlement with the Department of Justice,” read a statement from PartyGaming.
“Whilst these discussions are at an advanced stage, the terms of any settlement have not yet been finalised and there can be no guarantee that an agreement will be reached between the company and the Department of Justice.”
A report in the Financial Times newspaper alleged that PartyGaming’s largest shareholder, Anurag Dikshit, had offered to pay a fine amounting to $300 million and plead guilty to a charge of Internet gambling in order to settle the matter. The Indian owns approximately 28 percent of the gambling operator and such a deal could see him serve a custodial sentence of up to two years.
“However, on the basis of the discussions to date, PartyGaming expects any settlement with the Department of Justice to involve a payment by the company of an amount that is significantly lower than that reported to be paid by Mr Dikshit in today’s Financial Times,” read the PartyGaming announcement.
“In addition, the company believes that any such settlement is unlikely to include a criminal plea on the part of the company or any director.”