LOS ANGELES, California — (Press Release) — As the World Poker Tour emerges as a smash hit on television and becomes the engine driving a huge increase in customers to poker rooms and casinos across the country, those not currently on the roster of WPT Tournament Member Casinos are asking how they can get in on the action.
The WPT now has an answer. The WPT and Lakes Entertainment, which owns 80% of the venture, have formalized a WPT Satellite program designed specifically to encourage casinos and online poker rooms to run low cost satellite events that will feed directly into the season-ending World Poker Tour Championship, April 19-23, 2004 at Bellagio, Las Vegas, where the total prize pool is estimated to reach over $5 million.
"Now that we have proven this successful formula works for our member casinos, we feel it is time to expand participation to other casinos in the poker industry," says Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO. "By joining together we achieve many goals, not the least of which is the synergy that will enable casinos to improve the appeal of the game and draw a new generation of poker players."
By holding WPT Satellites, casinos can leverage the appeal of the World Poker Tour to attract new players that are likely to come back between tournaments, increasing revenues. They also receive exposure on the WPT website listing their satellites and if a player from their casino makes it to a WPT Final Table, the casino will be mentioned on the Travel Channel broadcast (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT). The association with the wildly popular World Poker Tour, which has nearly 5 million devoted viewers a week and has been the force changing the image of the game and its players, brings added brand leverage, a competitive edge and increased credibility to each of the casinos hosting WPT Satellites.
Certainly one of the results of the effort will be to dramatically increase the prize pool for the WPT Championship. Last season, the event drew 111 players and offered a prize pool of $2.6 million, with $1 million going to the winner. With the WPT Satellite program in place, the finals are expected to draw more than 200 players, resulting in a $5 million prize pool and $2 million first prize for the champion.
Here's how the events work: Casinos across the country create a WPT Satellite or series of tiered satellites within their casinos. Winners of each WPT Satellite go on to compete in a $2,600 satellite at Bellagio, Las Vegas, plus receive airfare and accommodations for two nights at an MGM Mirage property. Should they win their table at Bellagio, they receive a $25,000 entry into the WPT Championship game, and the WPT will extend their free accommodations until they are eliminated or win the tournament.
To maximize the value of the WPT Satellite program for both parties, the WPT will provide promotional assistance to each participating casino. This package includes artwork for advertising, promotional materials, templates for signage, promotional video, DVDs and publicity materials to build the buzz for the event. The winner of the WPT Championship will be profiled in the final televised show--spotlighting his journey to the finals and the casino. Casinos are also offered the opportunity to share in the proceeds from the sale of WPT merchandise.
Initial casinos that have enthusiastically signed up include Turning Stone Casino Resort (Verona, NY); Players Casino (Federal Way, WA); Spirit Mountain Casino (Willamina, OR), Village Club (Chula Vista, CA), Divi Carina Bay Casino (Christiansted, Virgin Islands), Wildhorse Casino Resort (Pendleton, OR), Six Card Charlies (Long Beach, WA), Planetpoker.com (online), and AbsolutePoker.com (online).