Online Casino BTDino

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Billion dollar stake

There is one big caveat to this tale of good fortune. The legality of internet gambling in the US is a point on which the operators and the US department of justice cannot agree. So before Bhargava, Dikshit and their colleagues can turn any part of their theoretical fortunes into cash, the investment community has to be convinced that the business is not vulnerable to being closed down overnight in the US, its biggest market.

The signs are good. Sportingbet, a quoted British company, paid £169m last year for one of PartyGaming's rivals, Paradise Poker, and has seen its share price surge 150% since then, as investors wake up to the global online poker revolution.

Bhargava says more than 70,000 people play on Party Poker simultaneously at peak hours; two years ago, the figure was fewer than 2,000. Party Poker makes its money by taking a small slice from each pot - the rake, in the jargon. A dollar here and dollar there add up, particularly when your website runs round the clock.

Unlike Amazon and the other US internet pioneers, PartyGaming was not an original idea. "In early 2000 everybody was talking about Paradise Poker and we saw them and thought 'they're making money, so can we,' " says Bhargava.

The strategy was to launch with a bang - a tournament with a first prize of $1m. At the time, such sums could only be won in the very biggest tournaments in bricks-and-mortar casinos, such as the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where the entry fee for the main event is $10,000.