Casino Watch - November 2004

28 October 2004
WSOP Announces Plans for Tournament Circuit

Harrah's Entertainment on Tuesday announced plans for the World Series of Poker in 2005. Harrah's, which took ownership of the event through its acquisition of Binion's Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in March, plans to turn the five-week tournament into a yearlong circuit of games to be played throughout the United States with the finals in Las Vegas. The 2005 season will begin in Atlantic City Jan. 7-18, with other stops at Harrah's Rincon near San Diego, the Rio in Las Vegas, Harveys Lake Tahoe and Harrah's New Orleans. Each of the events will be taped and aired on ESPN.

Players will earn points based on their performance in the circuit tournaments and the World Series of Poker. The top 100-point earners will receive a free invitation to the 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, where a single winner will take home the top prize of US$2 million.

The 36th Annual World Series of Poker is scheduled to begin June 2, and will run through July 15. An estimated 5,000 players are expected to participate in the $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold'em Championship--double the number that competed in 2004. To accommodate the large field of participants, most of the 2005 World Series of Poker will be held at the Rio, while the final two days of the championship tournament will be held at Binion's.

The 2005 Tournament of Champions will take place soon after the conclusion of the World Series of Poker Championship event, and will be held at the Rio. Teams up with LA Radio Station announced a partnership this week with ESPN Radio 710 in the Los Angles area and the Bicycle Casino to present the First Annual ESPN Radio 710 Mason & Ireland Celebrity Poker Party to be held Nov.14. Hundreds of players are invited to compete in the No-Limit Hold'em tournament for a guaranteed $25,000 first prize. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Steve Mason and John Ireland, hosts of ESPN Radio 710's "The Big Show with Mason & Ireland," will host the tournament, which will feature numerous celebrity players and up to 700 KSPN listeners and Children's Hospital doctors. The cost to buy into the tournament is $200 plus a $30 entry fee, and players will be able to buy in multiple times if they're eliminated early.

Boss Inks Deal with Czech Operator

Boss Media, a gaming software supplier based in Sweden, signed a technology licensing agreement this week with SYNOT LOTTO, a gaming operator in the Czech Republic. The deal calls for SYNOT to place Boss-powered gaming machines throughout its properties in the Czech Republic. The machines are connected to a central system via a client/server solution. The system offers players a wide range of games, including roulette, video poker and slot machine games. The Czech government recently issued three VLT licenses, one of which was awarded to SYNOT. The Ministry of Finance and local authorities have been given an opportunity to seek information on real-time gaming, and supervision can take place on various levels, from a national or regional level down to the individual gaming machine. The pilot agreement is for a period of six months.

WPT Airs First Poker Analysis Show

Yet another sign of poker's enormous growth over the last two years, the World Poker Tour aired its first ever poker analysis TV show this month in conjunction with one of its broadcasts on the Travel Channel. Hosted by Mike Sexton, the program included chat, tips and in-depth analysis of the final table. Sexton was joined on the show by pros Daniel Negreanu, Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth. Steve Lipscomb, president of WPT Enterprises and creator of the show, said the launch of the "breakdown" show of poker was just another step in poker's movement into the mainstream sports and entertainment arena. "The addition of 'WPT Poker Corner' to the Wednesday night programming on Travel Channel makes for a full night of poker entertainment," Sexton said, adding that it's "perfect for both die-hards and newcomers alike."

Court Upholds Ruling against Problem Gambler

An appeals court in Indiana upheld a lower court ruling this month in which a problem gambler's bid to recoup $70,000 in losses from Harrah's was denied. Milan Stulajter of Chicago asked Harrah's in April 2001 to keep him out of its casinos, but he continued to receive marketing material from the casino operator and returned only to lose. He sued the company for failing to stop him from gambling after he voluntarily placed himself on its self-exclusion list.

Man U Revisits Casino Plan

Fresh on the heels of the U.K. Gambling Bill' formal introduction in Parliament, the Manchester United football club said it is revisiting its plans to build a Man U-themed casino near the team's playing ground of Old Trafford. A United insider said the business rationale for such a move was "compelling." The club estimates that an average of 9,000 visitors would visit the themed casino every week, spending between £30 and £40, with the number of gamblers peaking on match days. It's not yet clear what slice of this estimated annual revenue of up to £20 million United would take; it would build the property in partnership with a casino operator and reportedly held talks last year with Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage.