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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Public takes punt on Partygaming
Poker has been growing in popularity recently
Earnings growth is continuing at Partygaming
Shares in Partygaming, owner of the Partypoker website, have risen 3% as trading opened to members of the public for the first time.

Institutional investors have been able to trade the stock since Monday, and the shares, which launched at 116 pence, have risen 23% since then.

The company's shares closed up 10p, or 7%, at 149 pence.

Share prices are rising despite fears about the legality of online gambling in the US, the company's main market.

The US Department of Justice says online betting is prohibited in the US by legislation designed to cover cross-border and inter-state telephone gambling

Partygaming - which was set up by Californian lawyer Ruth Parasol - is based in Gibraltar with no assets in the US.

It is estimated that the majority of its earnings last year came from the US, with Partygaming generating a pre-tax profit of 371m ($665m) in 2004.

The firm's offer price of 116p a share valued it at 4.64bn, the biggest UK stock market debut in five years.

During the first three months of the 2005 financial year earnings growth has continued and sales have almost doubled from the same period a year earlier.

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