A lot of noise in the poker world was made this week when Anurag Dikshit sold off the majority of his stake in Party Gaming, the company that owns Party Poker. Dikshit said he plans on donating the proceeds of the sale to his charity, the Kusuma Trust, which helps at-risk children in India, the United Kingdom, and Gibraltar (where Party Poker is based and he lives).
Dikshit has been giving away hundreds of millions of his fortune lately. Earlier this year, he plead guilty to violating US gambling laws and agreed to a fine of $300 million. Remember, he’s not pleading guilty to violating the UIGEA here…this was a plea to gambling laws prior to the enactment of the UIGEA. Party Gaming agreed to settle with the DOJ last year for around $100 million. In other words, Dikshit, who owned 28% of Party Gaming, paid three times as much as the company itself. Nice negotiating skills, Dikshit.
Many were perplexed why Dikshit agreed to pay such a huge fine. He basically said he just wanted to get that era behind him and move on with his life. Now, he’s selling off the rest of his stake in Party Gaming to donate to charity. I’ve got two rants I have to get off my chest:
Rant #1: The media and the poker world need to stop acting like this is good for Party Poker and poker in general. This sale doesn’t matter.
Some have suggested that by selling his stake to the public, Dikshit will no longer listed as a beneficial owner/director. Since he plead guilty and technically has a criminal record in the United States, his removal from Party Gaming means Party Gaming will no longer be ‘blemished’ and can somehow re-enter the US market easier when the UIGEA repeals.
There’s a lot of if’s here. This line of logic is similar to me thinking: I’ve heard that Britney Sears does not like to use condoms and doesn’t use birth control. Therefore, I should get a vasectomy. If I get a vasectomy, I can enter Britney Spears without me worrying about a baby.
Party Gaming (and everyone else in the poker world) should count on the UIGEA being repealed about as much as I should count on sleeping with Britney Spears. There is the chance of states allowing online poker (gambling is primarily a state law in the US). If online poker came back in the US and was fully legal, it would be on a state by state basis. Nonetheless, let’s wait and let that happen first and see how the states implement it before we cheer about some random dude selling his stock shares. OK people?
Rant #2: I’m sick of Dikshit giving away all his money
A lot of people applaud billionaires when they give away all of their money to charity. I suppose it is honorable to do so. But there’s something that just doesn’t quite sit right with me. What’s the point of these billionaires going through all the hoops to create these businesses in tax shelters if they’re just going to give all that money away later?
Can one of these billionaires that gives away all their money do something different for once? Everyone feeds the children and gives money towards disease pandemics. Yes, good causes I know.
But cmon Dikshit, if you feel so guilty about all the money you made from gambling, maybe give the money to Gambler’s Anonymous and other groups that help problem gambling. Maybe track down some people that lost a lot of money on Party Poker and have one huge bad beat jackpot for them. How about you give some of that money to the company that made you rich in the first place? Party is now 4th place in terms of poker traffic. It’s not even the #1 non-US site anymore.
Or at the very least, go on one huge coke and hooker binge. If none of this sounds appealing, why be a youngish billionaire? You’re just making the case that the government should tax those with huge windfalls (i.e. $30 million+) at 75% or whatever.