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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Poker online

"I have known Ruth since early 2000; she has definitively severed her ties with these sorts of people," he says. "That is all history. It's her previous life. If we had characters of that sort associated with the company, I would not be here and 99.9% of the people in our organisation would not be here. I have grown up in an environment where honesty and integrity are extremely important to what we do."

That view, one suspects, will be accepted by investors, especially as PartyGaming is now hiring executives with public-company experience. For example, Richard Segal, the respected former boss of Odeon cinemas, has been installed as chief executive. David Abdoo, Carlton's former company secretary, is also on board.

Those appointments suggest PartyGaming is not simply looking to sell itself to the highest bidder but has ambitions to keep growing. A flotation would give it a currency to buy rivals, and Cassava Enterprises, owner of the 888.com online casino, has been touted as a possibility; Cassava even operates from the same building in Gibraltar.

Even without a deal, the possibilities for PartyGaming, if it can retain its 50% market share in poker, are enormous. China, the land of the world's most enthusiastic gamblers, is an enormous medium-term target. This extraordinary growth story may yet have a long way to go.