Last week’s probity agreement with major shareholders Russ De Leon and Ruth Parasol means nothing is preventing PartyGaming from being licensed and re-entering the US, its chief executive has admitted.
De Leon and Parasol’s decision not to follow PartyGaming and the other company founder Anurag Dikshit and settle with US authorities for activities prior to passage of UIGEA had led to questions from the markets surrounding Party's ability to get licensed at federal or state level in the US.
Jim Ryan, however, highlighted that last week’s merger agreement had included a provision that if “perhaps a shareholder is going to be in the way of us getting a licence or completing a suitability review”, the company could obligate the shareholder to liquidate their position.
Ryan said: “There’s always been questions about PartyGaming and our position to do that, but we have now closed the loop and I think we are very well positioned for re-entering. Now all we need is regulation.”
On regulation, Ryan said that there were now three catalysts “driving our enthusiasm about re-entering into this market and regulation.”
“If we were sitting here a year ago, we would be talking about the efforts of lobbyists at various European online gaming organisations had hired to try and move regulation forward. Today, we are talking about in-country catalysts, organisations that are going to benefit from the addition of online gaming products,” Ryan said.
The first of these catalysts, according to Ryan was “new sources of revenue, and not just at a government level, but also at a land-based operator level in that country.”
“Another interesting catalyst are the efforts of Harrah’s and the WSOP, that they’ve announced they are actively pursuing a strategy has moved a lot of their competitors into looking at and exploring and wanting to partner up with other operators in the sector. Then we’ve got the catalyst of GTech acquiring various online gaming assets and talking to state-run lotteries about what online businesses can do for their revenue streams.”
Ryan, however, admitted that although he felt Party’s US settlement, subscription poker and WPT brand would serve the company well as it moves into the regulated environment, he still “didn’t know” if it would be licensed as a B2C operator.
“It is also equally possible, if not more likely, that we would have to offer our services to existing operators or existing licence holders. That’s why developing our B2B and B2G model was fundamental not just for European regulation but equally so for US regulation.”
The company’s negotiations with 12 land-based operators in the US over running events under its WPT Brand had given Party “a chance to talk to them about possibly leveraging that into the online world,” Ryan also revealed.