Several officials of Players International in Agoura Hills sold about $2.5 million worth of stock in the company almost two weeks before the stock took a sudden drop in over-the-counter trading, according to filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
Chairman Edward Fishman, Vice Chairman David Fishman, President Stanley Harfenist, Vice President John Quiroga and Director Stanley Fishman together sold 405,300 shares of Players stock on May 31 and June 31 for between $6.10 and $6.125 per share.
Harfenist sold another 10,000 shares that he holds for his son on June 6, for $6.125 per share.
The stock rose to a 52-week high of $8.50 on June 4. Investors were apparently intrigued by Players' announcement that it would soon test-market a telephone call-in version of the popular television game show "Jeopardy!" by using a 900-number service.
After the New York Daily News reported on June 13 that a Tennessee congressman had asked the U.S. attorney general in May to investigate a different 900-number game, Players' stock fell 31% in two days to close at $5.25 on June 14.
Players' stock closed Monday at $4.75 per share, down 37.5 cents.
David Fishman denied that the officials' stock sales were related to the congressman's announcement, which he said the company only learned about through the June 13 Daily News article. The reasons for the sales were "personal," David Fishman said. "I don't want to get into their personal reasons or mine," he said.
According to a separate filing with the SEC, the company officials planned to sell another 1 million shares. But David Fishman said that filing was made by mistake by the officials' brokers. The officials don't plan to sell more stock, he added.
Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., claimed that the other 900-number contest, which is called "The Game," constitutes a form of gambling. But David Fishman said Players' "Jeopardy!" game isn't gambling.
Players operates a club that offers discounts to "middle-roller" gamblers at casino resorts in places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.