WPT adds Mandalay Bay, subtracts PartyPoker and UltimateBet
The World Poker Tour (WPT) has announced the addition of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas as its newest "member casino".
The inaugural Mandalay Bay Poker Championship will be held on June 4-8 as the second stop in the fifth season of the WPT.
"This continues to build our solid relationship with the MGM MIRAGE family of destination resort casinos," said WPT Enterprises (WPTE) founder and CEO Steven Lipscomb in a prepared statement. "We have scored a trifecta with Mandalay Bay, The Mirage and Bellagio, the best Las Vegas has to offer."
In addition to the three MGM Mirage properties in Las Vegas, WPT stops are held at two other MGM Mirage casinos: the Gold Strike in Tunica, Mississippi, and the Borgata in Atlantic City. The Borgata is jointly owned by MGM Mirage and Boyd Gaming, while the Gold Strike and Mandalay Bay were acquired by MGM Mirage when it completed its takeover of Mandalay Resort Group in 2005.
WPT also officially announced that Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut will hold a second WPT event for Season 4, the Foxwoods Poker Classic (formerly known as the New England Poker Classic), on April 6-9. The Foxwoods Poker Classic will replace the PartyPoker Million on the WPT Season 4 calendar.
Online poker rooms PartyPoker.com and UltimateBet.com, both of which were charter members of the WPT, have withdrawn from the WPT, primarily due to WPTE's recent launch of its own online poker room, WPTonline.com, in international markets outside the United States.
"We've had a great run with both companies, but the circumstances have changed since we elected to launch WPTonline.com, our own international gaming website," said Lipscomb. "Although they will no longer be on the tour, we continue to explore future opportunities with both of these organizations."
WPTE recently banned international broadcasters from accepting advertising by competing online poker rooms during WPT telecasts outside the United States, starting with WPTE's new TV distribution agreement with ITV of the United Kingdom on the new free-to-air digital broadcast channel ITV4.
Both PartyPoker.com and UltimateBet.com are in active negotiations to place their events on television through new deals. It is rumored that one event will land on a national cable sports network, while the other could become part of another series of events launching in 2006. Both events are expected to continue under their respective new deals.
Look for the full season five WPT schedule on PokerNews.com in the next day or so.