While being the impetus for the current resurgence of poker, the World Poker Tour has made other inroads to the development of the game. With television, it has exposed an interested public to the thrills of the game and the excitement it generates. With the Professional Poker Tour, it has taken the legends and stars of the game and offered a pro golf style tour free of the risks of buy-ins. The one area that they had not stepped into is the online poker venue. Well, that is, until now.
In a partnership with WagerWorks, it was announced today that the World Poker Tour brand will enter the online gaming world with its own site. To be called WPTOnline.com, it is expected to launch in the second quarter of 2005. It will, however, have a prohibition on players from the United States and other jurisdictions where there are gambling law issues that prevent it from access. This is expected to be countered by the projected triple digit growth in the European market for online poker in the next two years.
"This is the next step in our global branding initiative," Lyle Berman, the CEO of World Poker Tour Enterprises, stated. "With the World Poker Tour now airing in fifty seven countries, the addition of an international gaming site provides a synergistic engine for growth. We believe the future of online gaming will be driven by strong brands, and the World Poker Tour is achieving the kind of worldwide recognition that will position us at the forefront of this burgeoning business sector."
WPTOnline will spread the usual array of poker games, including Texas and Omaha Holdem and Seven Card Stud and Hi/Lo. They will offer ring games, sit and gos and multi-table tournaments as well. In a unique twist, there will also be a fully functioning online casino with other games as well as competition in such WagerWorks online titles such as Monopoly, Wheel of Fortune and The Price Is Right.
While the online poker world seems to have a glut of sites, this latest venture may have some staying power. With the backing of the World Poker Tour, it will at the minimum have the proper sponsorship and, in the WPT, a recognized leader in the poker world. What will be a problem area will be the inability of American players to be able to play there. It could be something that will make or break the World Poker Tour and WPTOnline.