PartyPoker was an immensely popular online poker website in the United States before the UIGEA was passed, prompting PartyGaming to pull all of its gaming sites from the U.S. market. But since its prosecution by, and settlement with, the U.S. Department of Justice, the company has been eyeing a return to the lucrative market and recently indicated that it may happen sooner rather than later.
It was as recent as 2009 that PartyGaming pled guilty to providing unlawful gambling services to United States residents and paid a $105 million fine to clear its name with the U.S. government. But the wheels of the company’s executives have been in motion ever since, starting with the November 2009 purchase of the World Poker Tour and moving forward with merger talks that include company names like Bwin. PartyPoker has been adding players to its roster, names like Tony G and Kara Scott, and playing more of a prominent role in the live tournament scene around the globe. The company has clearly been expanding, seemingly with an eye on the U.S. market.
Proof of that goal recently came from the company’s chief executive in his own words. According to Reuters, Jim Ryan spoke to reporters about poker as a game of skill and the ongoing efforts to ensure that the U.S. government understands that point. “We are seeing increased momentum towards regulating online poker,” he said. “It’s possible that it could happen this year and we’re prepared if it does. We’ve got any number of U.S. operators who we’re talking to right now about providing them with online gaming services and software. That gives us good reason to think that regulation isn’t that far away.”
Ryan went so far as to reveal that PartyGaming already established an operation in Los Angeles, California, with a staff of 38 persons thus far. He also mentioned that if poker was regulated in the U.S., other forms of online gaming may not be far behind, and his company is prepared to capitalize on that option should it become available as well.
All of this news comes at the release of first quarter revenue numbers that showed PartyGaming up on the London market by 27 percent since the start of the year, putting the Q1 revenue at $127.1 million, despite shares being down 1.6 percent. Most of its growth has been in the casino, bingo, and sports betting divisions, though poker has been down because of competition still accepting U.S. customers, unlike PartyGaming.