PartyGaming closes to French

Without a warning to investors, PartyGaming, Plc., chose to close its Web site to French customers Friday. The news was broken today by the Guardian Unlimited which said the online gambling company is refusing to comment on the change.

Speculation is that the company, which owns and operates PartyPoker.com, may have chosen to depart France because of the country's increasing crackdown on online gambling.

French authorities had recently requested interviews with executives from about 20 online gambling companies to discuss the legality of their marketing activities in France.

PartyGaming closed its gambling sites to French players the same day letters went out to companies requesting interviews about their activities in France. However, PartyGaming has insisted they weren't one of the companies contacted.

It was just three days later that someone, who remains anonymous so far, also sold a bundle of 123 million shares of PartyGaming stock. The company will have to announce who sold off the shares sometime this week.

The investors with large enough holdings to have sold that amount include PartyGaming's four founders as well as companies Fidelity and Orbis. Initial speculation was that Orbis, a London-based hedge fund, was the culprit.

So far it is understood that founder Ruth Parasol and her husband Russ DeLeon weren't the sellers.

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