Poker firm PartyGaming's recent stock market launch gave investors a taste for gambling - and rivals seem to be queuing up to cash in on its success.

PartyGaming is now bigger than retailer Marks & Spencer in terms of market value after starring just two months ago in London's biggest flotation since the dotcom boom.

After seeing its market value rise from around £5 billion to £6.7 billion, the stock is also on a par with B&Q owner Kingfisher and airports operator BAA, and looks set to enter the FTSE 100 Index of leading shares next month.

Internet casino operator is reportedly the latest firm hoping to grab a slice of PartyGaming's success and is also said to be aiming for a listing.

Some experts have expressed concern at the boom in online gaming stocks amid concerns over the legality of online poker in the US.

The potential for online gaming to be a short-term fad has also been a consideration.

But Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, said he had no concerns about the potential growth of the gaming industry as gambling was much more accessible than before.

He said this was partly down to the changing demographics, with a large rise in the number of women gambling.

"The male domination of casinos seen in the past, where you had to physically walk into a casino, is changing," he said. "Now it is something that can be done anonymously, either from home or the office."

Changes to UK gambling laws and the potential for growth of online gaming in the UK also made the sector attractive.

Mr Hunter said he was concerned that PartyGaming was too focused on poker, with 90 per cent of its revenues coming from its site.

Firms such as were more balanced since they relied on a wide range of games, such as blackjack, for their income, he added.

Hilary Cook, at stockbroker Barclays, said she believed the popularity of online gambling was more than just a fad.

She said: "It won't carry on growing at this rate but given that we're a nation of gamblers, it's here to stay."

From the point of view of investors, she said PartyGaming had an advantage because it was one of the first to float.

Gibraltar-based, which operates Casino-on-Net, Reef Club Casino and Pacific Poker, generates most of its revenues through its casino games such as blackjack and roulette.

It is the world's largest internet casino operator in terms of visitor numbers and is said to be planning to make its debut in London today.

Analysts estimate that revenues from the industry globally have doubled over the past three years to $9 billion (£5 billion). Some predict that within a decade it could be worth $ 125 billion ( £ 70 billion).

Gamblers Anonymous recently highlighted the downside of this trend when it said it was beginning to receive calls from people who had become addicted to betting over the web.

Although GA does not think online gambling is an intrinsically bad thing, it is concerned that the internet makes it far easier for people to gamble.

One operation,, is trying to pull in the punters by offering them the chance to own a percentage of the business.

It says it will operate as a normal poker website but with a significant twist - it will release 40 per cent of its equity to the players, rewarding them for the hours they play. is the brain-child of Stephen Forsyth, billed as " the owner/operator of numerous casinos, racetracks and sports books worldwide", and his associates.

Director of gaming, Max Wright, said: "The poker revolution has arrived. Now everyone stands to gain."

Some people might just take issue with that.