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The Times: Business big shot – Mitch Garber

The announcement by Mitch Garber that he is to stand down as chief executive of Party Gaming after only 2 years in the post may cement the perception that its executives regard the Internet gambling company as a cash machine.

The Canadian’s predecessor, the former Odeon Cinemas boss Richard Segal, quit less than a year after its controversial stock market flotation, having pocketed well over £30 million in salary, bonuses, perks and  - most lucratively of all – share options. Mr. Garber, 43, joined on a package worth a total of about £40 million, although the American ban on internet gambling less than six months into his tenure led to his incentive scheme being scrapped and replaced with a new package worth around £18 million. He said that his decision not to renew his contract beyond May next year was “a long-term family decision” that would allow him to return to his native Canada with his wife and two children. He said that he had given such a long notice period to “facilitate a very easy transition”.

Mr. Garber joined PartyGaming from FireOne, an AIM-listed payment processing company for the online gaming industry, where he was executive chairman. He was simultaneously executive vice-president of Optimal Group, FireOne’s Nasdaq-listed majority shareholder. His involvement with internet gaming goes back to his days as a lawyer in the 1990s, when he developed the first gaming law practice in Canada for the Montreal-based firm Lazarus Charbonneau. He graduated in civil law from the University of Ottowa.

Mr. Garber is credited with restoring PartyGaming’s fortunes after a large part of its core PartyPoker business was wiped out by the US ban. Yesterday, as he unveiled better-than-expected 2007 earnings on slightly below-forecast revenue growth, he claimed that PartyGaming has been “reorganized, repackaged, and relaunched as a more broadly-based and international business”.