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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 11:01 GMT
Partygaming profit up as CEO goes
Partygaming chief Richard Segal
Mr Segal will leave the company by June
A jump in profits at online gaming group Partygaming has been overshadowed by the surprise news that its chief executive is to quit.

Richard Segal said he was quitting because of his weekly commute to Gibraltar, where the company is based.

He agreed to leave after turning down a request to move to the country.

The news came as Partygaming posted a "cracking" set of results. Full year earnings rose 49% to $583.7m (334.9m) on a 63% rise in revenues to $977.7m.

Strong growth

"Partygaming's full year performance has again been outstanding, endorsing the strategy mapped out at the time of the IPO," chairman Michael Jackson said.

"The rapid pace of development has continued in 2006."

The group said the increase had been driven by continued growth in the online poker market and the launch of virtual blackjack tables in October.

Given the rapid growth of the company, [Mr Segal] and the board agree that the CEO now needs to be located in Gibraltar

But, while poker remains popular, taking in 3m in revenues each day - up 9% on the final three months of 2005 - blackjack revenues have fallen slightly.

But the group said the fall off had been expected and it now planned to give the game a bigger promotional push.

Partygaming said its customer numbers had surged to 1.7 million after it signed up 900,000 new users over the year. A further 92,838 joined up in January.

New markets

The group has recently created a shared purse that allows gamblers to play across all of its sites - such as Partypoker, StarluckCasino and Multipoker.

The online casino also revealed that its daily win had dipped slightly to an average $920,000, compared to $980,000 between October and December.

The company now aims to sign up more customers outside the US, where the legal status of online gaming is under question.

Meanwhile, the firm announced it had not yet found a replacement for Mr Segal, who will leave on or before 1 June.

"Given the rapid growth of the company, he and the board agree that the CEO now needs to be located in Gibraltar along with all the other executive directors," Partygaming said.

Mr Segal, who saw the firm through its 4.64bn market float, said he had declined to move out of the country because of his strong family ties to London.

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