Gambling tycoon sells rest of Empire Online to Party Gaming

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Noam Lanir, owner of the online gambling company Empire Online, is selling his remaining shares in the beleaguered company to arch-rival PartyGaming for $40 million, it was reported today. reported that Lanir appears to be finished with the gambling business following his decision to sell his remaining stake in his company.

Empire used to provide online poker to their players through a Party Poker skin, which means Empire players played with PartyPoker players but under an EmpirePoker banner. However, the two companies had a falling out when PartyPoker decided to cut their numerous skins.

Empire Prestige Online was hit hard by the UIGEA as their shares were traded publicly on the London Stock Exchange. The company was worth $928 million when they listed around 18 months ago, but the overall value of the company plummeted following the passing of the bill through the US Senate, losing around 80% of its paper value. The company is now valued at $244 million.

The sale deal with PartyGaming, which has been keen to pick up some acquisitions, is expected to be finalized by the end of the week, reports.

It is understood Noam Lanir will use the proceeds from the sale to invest in real estate.

Other Israeli-owned online gambling companies are expected to go down the same road, with Ladbrokes tipped to finalize their purchase of 888 Holdings, and experts saying Playtech will be looking for buyers also.

PartyGaming has recovered from the initial shock of the unexpected UIGEA, with a recent trading report to the London Stock Exchange showing signs of clear stabilization.

There are also rumors floating around the online gambling industry that suggest PartyGaming may soon reopen their online poker and online casino games to the US market, but there has been no official statement from PartyGaming about any plans regarding this.

If they were to enter back into the US market, it would be bad news for the online gambling companies like PokerStars and Bodog, two companies who have benefited greatly from the decisions by PartyGaming and 888 Holdings to withdraw from the lucrative US market.