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Arnold M. Knightly


Former PartyGaming CEO rumored to join Harrah's

14 Apr 2009

By Arnold M. Knightly

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The blogosphere was alive early Monday morning with news that Harrah's Entertainment has hired Mitch Garber, the former chief executive of the online gaming company PartyGaming, to oversee a new subsidiary focused on developing the company's online gaming.

Garber left the Gibraltar-based PartyGaming, which owns the PartyCasino and the popular PartyPoker Web sites, last year.

While Harrah's has not officially announced the hire, the mere possibility of Garber joining the world's largest casino company could signal a new commitment to online gaming by Harrah's.

Harrah's Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman has long maintained that Internet poker will be legalized in the United States ahead of other casino games. In November 2007, Loveman predicted wagering on online poker would be legal by later this year.

While that prediction may turn out to be too ambitious, the hiring of Garber could mean the company is trying to position its World Series of Poker brand for what Harrah's believes is the eventual legalization of online poker wagering.

Harrah's has looked at the possibility of establishing WSOP-branded online sites in jurisdictions that clearly allow online gaming, which includes many Caribbean countries and many members of the European Union.

Fellow reporter Howard Stutz wrote Sunday about the legal status of online gaming.

Garber, who joined the company in April 2006, helped oversee the rebuilding of PartyGaming's business after the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act was signed into law in October 2006. Garber also had to work on correcting some legal issues that plagued the company prior to his arrival.

PartyGaming signed an agreement with the United States last week to repay $105 million, the amount the company realized from illegal online gaming activity in the U.S.

The Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York alleged that the company, starting in 2001, misrepresented transactions to credit card companies and worked to hide payment of winnings to U.S. customers.

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