The Canadian, an industry guru, told the company he wants to return to North America with his family next year and does not want to renew his contract, which runs out in May 2009.
He insisted he would stay on until a replacement is found – but it is a bitter blow for PartyGaming, whose previous chief executive Richard Segal walked out two years ago.
Garber joined PartyGaming, owner of the PartyPoker website, in April 2006 and helped build it into the biggest online gaming company in the world.
He was in the hotseat when the US brought in draconian legislation which effectively banned all Americans from gambling online. That meant PartyGaming lost a staggering 80% of its business overnight and sent the share price tumbling from around 120p to less than 30p.
Under Garber, however, the firm has expanded elsewhere in the world and today it unveiled profits for the year more than doubled from $50.9 million to $111.7 million (£56.3 million). Revenues rose 41% to $457.8 million with $295 million coming from its online poker tables, $146.7 million from casino games, and $16.1 million from betting on sports.
Nevertheless, PartyGaming shares today fell 1½p to 26p.
Garber, who was paid $1.6 million last year including bonus, said the company has “thrived” since the US banned online gambling in October 2006. “We’ve become a multi-national, multi-currency, multi-product offering company,” he said. “We’ve expanded around the world.”
The 43-year-old said the decision to leave was “a family decision” and they want to move back to Canada next year.
“PartyGaming is an extraordinary company,” he said. “The challenges we have faced and overcome in the last 18 months have been no less extraordinary. There is never a good time to announce that you intend to leave a company, but I personally take great pride in the fact that the company is delivering on its business strategy.
“I have decided to leave PartyGaming on a high note. I think we’ve done some tremendous work under some very difficult circumstances over the last two and a half years.”
- By Hugo Duncan