BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: TUESDAY, MAY 11, 2010
Is the World Series of Poker About to Move Again?
The possible sale of the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the fast-approaching deadline for implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act sparked readers’ e-mails this week.
Q: I keep hearing rumors that Harrah’s is about to sell the Rio. Wouldn’t that be trouble for the World Series of Poker? – Robert D. in Davenport, Iowa.
A: The potential sale of the Rio appears to be more than a rumor, Robert. Late last month, Business Week reported that several groups were bidding on the massive property worth an estimated $500 million.
The WSOP, which fires up again on May 28 for the 41st year, was moved to the Rio in 2005 after Harrah’s gained tournament brand rights by purchasing Binion’s Horseshoe, the WSOP’s home for its first 36 years.
The move was controversial at the time, mostly because of the tournament’s historical attachment to the Horseshoe and downtown Las Vegas. However, poker was exploding in popularity and the World Series was growing far too fast for the restricted facilities at its birthplace. The move made sense.
Despite the advantage of having room for 377 tournament tables this year, the Rio lacks one notable attraction – it’s not on the Las Vegas Strip. However, Harrah’s recently acquired Planet Hollywood, which has a prime location on the Strip and rivals the Rio in size and stature.
Switching the WSOP to Planet Hollywood, possibly next year, would be a huge shot in the arm for the complex formerly known as the Aladdin. Another Harrah’s property on the Strip big enough for the WSOP is Caesar’s Palace.
The possibility of a new World Series venue came up last week during a media conference call with tournament officials, but they sidestepped the question.
“We’re going to have a very successful tournament, the biggest we’ve ever had,” said Ty Stewart, WSOP vice president. “We’re not going to speculate on any of those other business dealings. The company would have a similar or expanded footprint if the WSOP is held outside of the Rio, but at this point, we’re focusing on running a great tournament in 2010.”
Seth Palansky, WSOP communications director, added: “We haven’t spent one second looking at alternative venues because we don’t think there’s a need to.”
Even if a move happens for 2011, look for poker’s greatest show to smoothly shift locations without skipping a beat.
Q: Some friends are quitting online poker because the new gambling law is about to kick in. I enjoy playing online, but don’t want to lose my money. What’s the latest news about this? – Jody N. in Geneseo, Ill.
A: As of last week, mandatory compliance with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act still is set to begin June 1. That’s when financial institutions officially could begin facing punishment for enabling money transactions into online poker accounts.
We’ll see, Jody. Remember, UIGEA implementation has been delayed multiple times over several years because the law was vaguely written with hard to define regulations. Another delay still could happen.
Either way, money in your online poker account should not be in jeopardy. The law doesn’t directly target players and there’s nothing to stop you from cashing out after June 1. It’s possible, however, that making a deposit will be less convenient after that date.
Meanwhile, proposed legislation that would legalize, regulate and tax online poker in the U.S. continues to move forward, although apparently not quickly enough to sidetrack the UIGEA.
Players essentially have four choices as the clock ticks toward June 1:
* Cash out now, then wait to see if online poker becomes federally regulated.
* Draw down your account as a safeguard, but leave enough to keep playing at a reduced level.
* Increase your account balance before it becomes tougher to make a deposit.
* Do nothing and keep playing.
You should choose whichever action makes you the most comfortable.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2010 RUSS SCOTT
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