Gaming giant bwin.party digital entertainment, which owns partypoker and the World Poker Tour, will have a major ownership shakeup once the company is awarded an Internet gambling license in New Jersey.
Ruth Parasol DeLeon and James Russell DeLeon have agreed to sell their shares of 7.16 percent each once the company's online gaming application is approved by New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). According to a company statement on Thursday, the DeLeons, who are in the middle of a divorce, will place their bwin.party shares into divestiture trusts, through which their shares will be sold over a period of up to 36 months.
Parasol, who founded PartyGaming in 1997, currently owns 58,498,667 shares in bwin.party through her holding company Emerald Bay Limited. DeLeon owns 58,498,666 shares through his Stinson Ridge holding company.
Under state legislation, major shareholders of gaming groups are required to submit individual license applications, or otherwise dispose of their shareholdings. The DeLeons have elected to enter into a divestiture agreement with bwin.party and the DGE rather than submit their own applications.
Bwin.party applied for a New Jersey Web gaming license on July 29 and is still awaiting approval from the DGE. The company has partnered up with the Borgata Hotel and Casino to be the service provider for their joint iGaming operation. The Borgata was the first casino to receive a license, and four others have since been approved.
PartyGaming merged with bwin in April 2011, and the company is eagerly awaiting its return to the U.S. market. After the passage of Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) on Sept. 29, 2006, PartyGaming suspended all real-money gaming business with U.S. customers and exited the market. Three years later, PartyGaming signed a Non-Prosecution Agreement to fork over $105 million to the U.S. Department of Justice for offering Internet gambling to U.S. customers prior to the passage of the UIGEA.
The settlement cleared PartyGaming from being prosecuted for any of its activities relating to its U.S operations, and also paved the way for the company return to the massive U.S. gaming market. Bwin.party has also received a license in Nevada and is set to provide the technology for MGM Resorts International's online poker platform.