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Kevin Smith

WPT Starts Season 2 with No I-Gaming Ads

12 December 2003

A spokesman for The Travel Channel confirmed to IGN this afternoon that the network has stopped accepting advertising from online casinos in conjunction with its telecasts of the World Poker Tour (WPT), but the policy could be lifted.

"Given the (U.S. grand jury) investigation, we are currently taking a cautious approach to online gaming advertisements."
- David Leavy
The Travel Channel

The telecasts were supported by numerous commercials for online casinos and poker sites during an inaugural season in which the program quickly became the network's highest rated show.

But an ongoing federal grand jury investigation into the advertising practices of the online gaming industry convinced network execs to reevaluate their advertising policies and discontinue the I-gaming ads, at least for the time being.

David Leavy, a spokesman for Travel Channel parent company Discovery Communications, said the decision was made solely by the Travel Channel and didn't reflect input from World Poker Tour officials.

The decision could effect one of the WPT's biggest events. Last year sponsored the Million II tournament, which took place on a cruise ship. The winner of the event took home $1 million, one of the highest prizes on the entire WPT.

The Million III is scheduled for March during a cruise to the Mexican Riviera and again is slated to be part of the WPT schedule. Leavy said network officials will study the issue.

"I don't know about event sponsorship," he said on the extensiveness of the network's new policy. "I would bet it is included. I am sure they can come to a decision that will work for all parties involved."

Leavy was unsure exactly how many potential or current advertisers will be lost.

Season two of the World Poker Tour debuted Wednesday with a two-hour broadcast of a women's tournament that pitted some of the best female poker players from all over the world against each other. The broadcast had only one commercial for a gaming related Web site, and it was for a site devoted to tips and advice for poker players of all levels.

"I think we had several advertisers affected by this decision," Leavy said. "I don't know if other advertisers came in, but most likely we will fill the slots with other advertisers."

Leavy said the Travel Channel wasn't affected directly by the grand jury investigation, but executives were aware of it and felt it was best to hold off on accepting the advertisements.

"We are aware of the scrutiny surrounding this issue and the government's ongoing federal grand jury investigation," he said. "Given the investigation, we are currently taking a cautious approach to online gaming advertisements."

Season two won't include I-gaming ads, but Leavy said The Travel Channel would welcome back the I-gaming sites if the investigation yields a clearer picture that's favorable to broadcasters.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely," he said. "No final changes to our policy have been made, and will review procedures and policies on an ongoing basis."

WPT Starts Season 2 with No I-Gaming Ads is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith