December 16, 2008 / 7:42 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-PartyGaming founder pleads guilty in US court

(Adds PartyGaming founder pleads guilty to a felony; changes dateline from LONDON)

NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - A founding member of UK-listed gambling firm PartyGaming Plc PRTY.L pleaded guilty on Tuesday to violating the law against Internet betting in the United States.

Anurag Dikshit, 37, admitted to the felony under a U.S. law on gambling in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and agreed to forfeit $300 million.

Dikshit has already paid $100 million and he agreed to pay a further $100 million within three months, his lawyers said.

Dikshit told Judge Jed Rakoff that he was aware that wagers transmitted by wire were being placed by PartyGaming customers in the United States. He said that by October 2006 he realized betting over the Internet was illegal under U.S. law.

“I came to believe there was a high probability it was in violation of U.S. laws,” Dikshit, a citizen of India who lives in Gibraltar and Britain, told the court. “I understand that what I did was wrong.”

He was released on a $15 million personal recognizance bond and under the plea deal his travel is restricted to the European Union, India and New York.

Dikshit faces a maximum of two years in jail and up to one year of supervised release when he is sentenced, the judge said. Dikshit is cooperating with prosecutors, and the judge scheduled his sentencing for Dec. 16, 2010.

In London, PartyGaming Plc said it remained in talks with the U.S Department of Justice about illegal Internet gambling.

PartyGaming said it expected its settlement, which is not guaranteed, would be “significantly lower” than the $300 million to be paid by Dikshit, and it was unlikely to include a criminal plea on the part of the company or a director. (Reporting by Grant McCool in New York and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Brian Moss)

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