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Kevin Smith

WPT, Travel Channel Approve 'Dot-Net' Appare

24 August 2005

In a significant shift in policy, the World Poker Tour and Travel Channel announced Tuesday that participants in WPT events will be allowed to wear sponsor logos during tournaments. . . provided the sponsor has been approved.

The WPT has released a draft set of sponsorship rules and expects to release a finalized version within the next two weeks.

The change could be huge for online poker rooms that had a television presence via the highly rated show until late 2003, when the Travel Channel stopped accepting advertisements from I-gaming operators.

Under the new guidelines, each player will be allowed to wear one six square-inch logo (on his/her breast pocket) of an approved sponsor during tournament play. Displaying the logos will be allowed during preliminary levels of play as well as final-table action.

In addition to restrictions on the size of the logo, only two players per brand will be allowed to wear a logo during the final table. If more than two players sponsored by the same entity make it to a final table, the WPT will high card to decide which two get to wear the logo.

Sponsors will need pre-approval from the WPT, Travel Channel and the host casino, and due to restrictions at the Travel Channel, logos representing "illegal activity of any kind, pornography, firearms, tobacco, personal hygiene, sexual aids or hard liquor" will not be permitted. The draft policy further states that the tour, the network and the host casinos "reserve the right to restrict logo wear for any reason whatsoever at their sole discretion."

Among logos that will be permitted are those from free-play poker sites, but only if the sites are "prohibited from accepting wages currently or in the future and containing links or references to online gambling or any online gambling Web sites which accept wages currently or in the future."

The policy, thus, opens the door for operators with coexisting real-money and free-play sites--provided, of course, that they keep the free-play and real-money sites exclusive of one another.

It's especially great news for operators who are taking advantage of increasingly popular "dot-net" advertising strategy. That is, they advertise free-play sites at ".net" sites, while offering real-money gambling at sister ".com" sites. The ".net" sites stay within the guidelines of media sellers by not including links to the ".com" sites. Instead, the operators acquire e-mail addresses through the registration process at the free-play sites and market the real-money sites to the free-play registrants.

The practice became commonplace after U.S. media outlets (including the Travel Channel) stopped running ads for online gambling services--a situation that was preceded by a U.S. grand jury investigation into the advertising practices of the I-gaming industry.

Steven Lipscomb, the CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises Inc., said the new policy signifies the strength of the partnership between the WPT and the Travel Channel.

"We launched the current poker boom together and are constantly trying to find new ways to foster and grow the market we helped create," Lipscomb said.

He added, "We agreed that a player logo policy would solidify our relationship with players and help foster a climate in which mainstream sponsorship of poker players will become a reality."

WPT, Travel Channel Approve 'Dot-Net' Appare is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith