Several UK services have broken the news that PartyGaming co-founder Anurag Dikshit has agreed to plead guilty to one or more charges relating to illegal online wagering, and pay US authorities a massive fine reported as $300 million (£196 million). According to the reports led by the Financial Times, Dikshit will appear in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday to plead guilty to at least one Wire Act violation and cooperate with ongoing DoJ investigations.
Dikshit is one of several high-profile founders of PartyGaming who retains significant ownership in the company, along with Russell DeLeon and Ruth Parasol. Dikshit owns 27% of Party, while husband and wife DeLeon and Parasol retain 14% each. Dikshit, a native of India, reportedly risks a jail term of up two years by entering the US to make the plea agreement. Parasol and DeLeon, according to the reports, are not seeking to negotiate with the US.
PartyGaming, as with SportingBet and 888 Holdings, are online gaming focused companies publicly traded on London Stock Exchange indices. Each of these companies has seen its stock value severely depressed in the wake of the US's 2006 UIGEA and subsequent prosecutions connected to the industry. The Southern District of New York is the same jurisdiction that has been involved with several other high-profile indictments connected to online gambling, including NETeller co-founders Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre. Still other firms have been rumored to be under investigation.
PartyGaming, according to the UK reports, is expected to report to the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday regarding Dikshit's plea arrangement. A settlement could pave the way for the company to resume consolidation negotiations with other firms.