One of the biggest headlines made during the 2006 World Series of Poker was not made at the poker table. Right in the middle of the WSOP, seven top players filed a lawsuit against the World Poker Tour, citing anti-trust violations, and other infringements on players rights.
Yesterday, the WPT fired back, and filed their answer to the complaint (lawsuit), and gave some insight on their perspective on the lawsuit filed by the players.
The World Poker Tour indicated it had retained Makan Delrahim of the Washington D.C. based firm Brownstein, Hyatt and Farber to represent them in this matter. Mr Delrahim has previously worked for the US Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust matters.
"We believe that our answer illustrates why we believe the allegations in the suit are misleading and without merit," said WPTE's General Counsel, Adam Pliska. "While we are disappointed that this action was ever filed, our company is pleased to be represented by such a distinguished legal team and deeply appreciates the support we have received throughout the poker community."
The most interesting portion of the 22 page answer filed yesterday by WPT counsel is the WPT actually attempts to turn the tables. One portion of the answer asserts that any of the players in this suit that are affiliated with, or participate in the business decision making process of an online poker room are actually putting the WPT at an unfair advantage. The answer asserts that by participating in profits reaped by accepting US bettors via their online poker site, these players put the WPT at a competitive disadvantage. The WPT's online poker site, WPT Online does not take US bettors due to the unclear legal situation surrounding online poker here in the US. The answer also claims that, by promoting online poker in the US, and and taking US bettors, these players are actually subsidizing the poker TV programming these online poker rooms produce, and as such, competing with the WPT in its core business – producing poker television programming.
The paperwork filed by the World Poker Tour on Thursday opens new issues in this conflict, and it will be interesting to see how the players respond to this, and where this lawsuit goes from here.