Just last week, Everest Poker’s parent company Ultra Internet Media filed a lawsuit against Harrah’s Entertainment. The suit is alleging that Harrah’s exhibited a breach of contract with the online poker room.
Everest Poker is in their final year of their multimillion dollar contract with the WSOP. The online poker room is the sponsor of the annual tournament in Las Vegas and they have paid millions each year to have their brand featured at the event. the deal began in 2008 and was to continue this year as well.
The breach of contract allegations center around the French television station RTL9. The station displays logos of Full Tilt poker on WSOP felts instead of Everest Poker who is the sponsor. In 2009 ESPN and Harrah’s officials met to discuss the issue and now a suit has been filed.
The lawsuit states: “Harrah’s and ESPN agreed to control their affiliate, RTL9, and require RTL9 to cease causing violations of the agreement during its broadcasts and transmissions into France.”
Despite this, the broadcasts continued to show the Full Tilt Poker logo instead of Everest Poker. the report broke in the Las Vegas Sun and according to the report Harrah’s officials have yet to receive a copy of the lawsuit. The suit was filed by law firm Marquis & Aurbach who are based in Las Vegas.
Everest Poker earns a large portion of their revenues from France which led them to focus on the French television affiliate. According to the law suit: “Every material breach of the agreement represents lost potential future profits, erosion of goodwill, and compromise of UIM’s international business reputation.”
Everest Poker paid $6.2 million in 2008 according to the deal and $7.9 million in 2009 to be the sponsor shown on the felt at the World Series of Poker in those years. According to the lawsuit they poker room does not intend to pay the $8.4 million they would be paying to be shown on the 2010 World Series of Poker which is close to beginning. Everest Poker has notified Harrah’s of their decision to pull out of the 2010 WSOP.
It will be interesting to see what happens in this case. Harrah’s should be sent the lawsuit soon and they will, I’m sure, be taking action against the suit. If Everest Poker does pull out and is not advertised during the 2010 World Series of Poker it will give leeway for many of the other online poker rooms to step up and move in.
The World Series of Poker is one of the most anticipated events in the poker industry so to be able to advertise your brand for the world to see is extremely important and coveted by many online poker rooms. I would not be surprised if a bidding war took place on who will be the sponsor this year that is if Everest Poker can get out of their contract with the World Series of Poker.