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PartyGaming saw revenues jump 54 per cent over the last year as the global appetite for online gaming continues to soar.

In the three months to March the giant Gibraltar-based online casino and poker group took in $342.6m - up from the $222.6m generated in revenues in the corresponding quarter last year.

Much of this increased revenue came as the firm signed up more than 263,000 new poker players to its service. Publishing a trading update today the firm revealed that on average, 24,500 players logged onto its service each day during the last quarter helping the gaming giant generate revenues of almost $1m a day.

"I am pleased to report that we have made a strong start to 2006," said group finance director Martin Weigold. "The first quarter has seen continued strong growth in poker on the back of a record number of poker sign-ups."

Despite its continued growth PartyGaming is looking to expand its business still further with the launch of multi-lingual websites. For instance, PartyPoker.com is now available in English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Russian.

More foreign language versions of its gaming sites are due to be rolled out later in the year along with backgammon, the first of two new games scheduled to be released later this year.

Even though PartyGaming reported a strong start to the year and increased revenues, its shares on the London Stock Exchange were on the slide today. Part of this is down to ongoing uncertainty about proposed legislation that could see online gaming outlawed in the US.

The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act - which is being backed by Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte - is looking to crack down on online gambling and make it illegal to bet on the net using a credit cards and other payment methods such as internet transfers.

Speaking earlier this month Goodlatte said: "I have been continuously committed to curbing gambling on the Internet. While gambling is currently illegal in the United States unless regulated by the states, the development of the Internet has made gambling easily accessible. It is common for illegal gambling businesses to operate freely until law enforcement finds and stops them.

"Illegal online gambling doesn't just hurt gamblers and their families, it hurts the economy by draining dollars from the United States and serves as a vehicle for money laundering," stated Goodlatte. "It is time to shine a bright light on theses illegal sites and bring a quick end to illegal gambling on the Internet and I applaud the Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on this important legislation."

Critics of the proposed legislation claim that the measures to combat online gambling would be too complex and too costly to enforce. ®

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