PartyGaming hit by US legal settlement

ONLINE gaming group PartyGaming slumped to a loss in 2009 after paying costs for a deal with US authorities that will protect it from being prosecuted over its past trading activities there.

It posted a loss of $26.5m (£17.6m) in the year to 31 December – down from a profit of $66.1m in 2008.

The firm’s agreement with the government – over an alleged breach of gaming laws – resulted in costs of $105m of which $15m was paid in 2009.

PartyGaming’s poker sales have been hit by competition from rivals which continue to offer services to US-based players despite this kind of betting being made illegal in that country in 2006.

The Gibraltar-based company also operates websites including PartyPoker, PartyCasino and PartyBets.

Meanwhile, chief executive Jim Ryan insisted that the firm was eyeing a number of merger and acquisition possibilities despite its difficult year.

He said: “We are certainly in discussions with a few parties on a number of different opportunities. There are a list of suspects who one would expect us to be talking to given that our focus is consolidating the online gaming sector.”

The company bought online bingo business Cashcade and the World Poker Tour last year.

It is also holding talks with a number of partners about sector consolidation and is keen to boost its presence in sports betting.

Ryan added that he believed the US government was poised to relax laws relating to online poker gambling.