Considered a Godfather in the online Casino industry, billionaire Anurag Dikshit (pronounced dik-sit) is listed as one of the youngest and richest men in the world according to Forbes.
His life wasn’t always paved in gold achieving his billionaire status the old fashioned way, by earning it. The Indian entrepreneur was born in Sindri, Jharkhand in 1973. In 1994 he attended India’s Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi graduating with a Bachelor of Technology degree in computer science.
Fresh out of college he took his ambition and determination to the United States where he landed his first job as a software developer CMC followed by a systems analyst at Websci and then at ATT as a consultant.
His life was about to change after meeting lawyer Ruth Parasol. Parasol born and raised in California and the daughter of Richard Parasol, a Jewish Polish Holocaust survivor, and Guna Parasol, who is Swedish. After high school she went to college and received a BA in Business at the University of San Francisco in 1988. Her education continued at Western State University College of Law where she graduated in 1992. For a short time Parasol’s career involved working with her father’s successful business in real estate management and audiotex business consisting of horoscope, tarot, trivia and chat services.
With a keen eye in the online industry she quickly became a success operating an internet pornography business. As gambling sites began to gain popularity she made a crucial decision to sell her porn business. In 1997 Starluck Casino was established with a focus on Blackjack and Roulette games.
Party Poker Software Goes into Development
During that time their rival competition Paradise Poker founded in 1999 emerged out of the inspiration from the very first launch of its kind – Planet Poker established in 1998.
Parasol impressed by the success of Paradise Poker determined in 2000 it was a good business move to shift to a Poker platform. It was then she asked Dikshit to come on board and write the software for the new site. This would turn out to be the smartest decision in her career. He then hired a friend from his alma mater, Vikrant Bhargava and with a team began to work on the games applications.
In 2001 Party Poker was born and went live. The software developed was ahead of its time in technology. It had the speed, quality and graphics players gravitated to. Other Poker software at the time ran slow and had poor graphics as result blowing the competition straight out of the water.
A heavy marketing campaign was launched and once visitors got a sample of the site, they were there to stay thanks to the remarkable software Dikshit developed.
In addition to impeccable graphics that had a more fun and attractive appeal, it attracted a whole new demographics that was no longer limited to a serious somber type player. It was calling attention to every type of player including the newbie, sharks and pros. It reached an international proportion and succeeded in drawing in American players, which before this time was virtually untapped territory.
Dikshit Goes to US for Indictment
Due to the laws in the US online gambling was illegal. To get around the problem like other gambling sites that had American customers Dikshit along with his colleagues didn’t operate on US soil. Servers and employees were based in Gibraltar where Dikshit currently lives including India, England and the Caribbean.
Dikshit hit the Jackpot when Parasol realizing his importance to the future of the company allocated him a handsome number of shares. In June 2005, his work and skill would paid off when it floated on the London Stock Exchange. Eventually selling 23% of his stake in the company he is still the company’s largest single shareholder with 27%.
His fortune grew at a staggering rate with Party Gaming’s floatation amassing £420m and another £65.7m after selling more shares in the following year. In 2006 he received $64m in dividends giving him an estimated worth around $1.7bn.
Stepping down from the board of directors at Party Gaming he went on to focus on developing new products as the head of research and special projects. Bhargava was instrumental in implementing the launch of the first largest Poker Tournament offering cash prize of $1m to the winner.
When the United States passed the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) in 2006 the jolt was felt across the world for online gamblers, Casinos and Poker sites.
Party Poker was charged in the crackdown. Dikshit went to the United States to answer the charges and ultimately paid a $300 million fine and served no prison time. It is speculated he went to clear it up to be in the good graces with the country when online gambling would eventually become legal.
Anurag Dikshit Prefers Privacy or Publicity
Having Bhargava as the front man to conduct interviews and deal with the media allows Dikshit to lead a life that shies away from the public. Little related to his personal life is available. The mystery man once said “I really want my life to stay as private as possible”.
Married to Dr. Soma Pujari together they have a child and today focus on charity causes. They are joint co-founders of Kusuma Trust, an organization that focuses on education, research and community projects with a mission is to provide education and opportunities to children. Their goal in India is to improve the quality of education in the districts of Sambalpur in Odisha and Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh. The two districts make up together a population of 5.1 million will results that show they are the lowest in performance for their State.
The most recent accomplishments include four satellite Kusuma Resource Centres (KRCs) launched in schools in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh and Sambalpur, Odisha in September, 2105. These new satellite centres is instrumental in building on the success of existing KRCs. This will give more communities from remote areas access to educational resources plus an opportunity to participate in training and courses.
The organization also works in partnership with the UK where areas of economic and social deprivation exists in an effort to increase opportunities for education and employment for young people. Additionally also support certain selected community projects.
Projects currently in the works include:
Kusuma Schools Partnership Initiative - a year project that involves 25 Secondary schools in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh, and 25 Secondary Schools in Sambalpur, Odisha. The focus is on the quality development of teachers, building the capacity of Headteachers, providing learning materials/resources for students and to improve school facilities.
Kusuma Ratna Fellowship – supports bright secondary school students that come from underprivileged backgrounds to pursue educational courses, communication workshops and life skills and mentoring.
Kusuma Excellence Fellowship - focuses on commendable students that are from poor families who are attending school in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh, to complete secondary school and reach for higher and professional education.
Mid-Day Meal Kitchen - prepares meals and delivers up to 100,000 a day in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha for children studying in government schools.
Kusuma School of Biological Sciences – this was founded in 2011 at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. It provides teaching and research programmes, including undergraduate and post-graduate courses in the biological sciences.