Divorcing bwin.party founders to sell stakes in New Jersey licence bid

Reuters

LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Two founders of bwin.partydigital entertainment, who are divorcing, have agreedto sell their stakes in the online gaming group if it issuccessful in winning a licence in New Jersey, the third U.S.state to allow online gambling.

James Russell DeLeon and Ruth Parasol DeLeon will put theirstakes of 7.16 percent each into a trust to be sold over thenext three years under an agreement with New Jersey's Divisionof Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the company said on Thursday.

Under state legislation, substantial shareholders in gaminggroups also have to submit individual licence applications,something that the DeLeons did not want to do for reasons ofprivacy, bwin.party said.

Analysts at Numis said the agreement indicated that it wasmore likely that bwin.party would be eligible to startoperations in New Jersey next month.

"It seems unlikely to us that it would have been executed sonear to the start of online gambling in New Jersey if bwin.partywere not likely to get permission to participate," they said.

Bwin.party applied in July for a licence in New Jersey, thethird state after Nevada and Delaware to legalise onlinegambling.

The industry sees New Jersey as the most lucrative casinomarket based on size and the fact its law encompasses many formsof gambling, while Nevada's regulations only allows onlinepoker.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, owned by Boyd Gaming Corp's and MGM Resorts, said it received the firstInternet gaming permit ever in New Jersey from the state'sDivision of Gaming Enforcement earlier this month.

Borgata is partnering bwin.party in its online gamblingoffering.

Shares in bwin.party traded up 2 percent at 124.8 pence by0835 GMT.

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