James Moore: PartyGaming needs a winning hand

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The Independent Online

Outlook Short-stacked in poker terminology is when a player is close to busting out, with only a small pile of chips to play with. In such a position you're reduced to hoping that the cards will deliver something playable so that you can push all those chips in.

Much of the online poker industry – the parts with listings on the London Stock Exchange and directors who don't like the idea of being clapped in irons should they travel Stateside – has been in this sort of position ever since the US government banned online gaming in 2006.

But the company will provide the technology and infrastructure for the United Auburn Indian Community, operator of the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, to offer online poker if and when state laws allow.

The ban was always the height of hypocrisy, being pushed through by ultra-conservative law makers who bandy words like "freedom" and "liberty" around while acting to limit them. It has also (unsurprisingly) proved rather difficult to enforce. Hence the hope that states like California, which is grappling with a multi-billion-dollar deficit, may take the lead in legitimising, regulating and taxing online gaming.

Bwin.party includes what was left of PartyGaming after its post-ban legal settlement with the US authorities. With Party having floated for the thick end of £4.5bn, it has some serious gambling debts to pay off.

It really could do with this hand being a winner.