Inside Gaming: Hard Rock Gets Litigious, Betfair Goes Public, and SpadeClub Goes Dark
This week in Inside Gaming, we look at the latest argument over the ownership of a name. Owners of the Hard Rock brand are suing the Las Vegas hotel-casino, alleging that the hotel's debaucherous Rehab pool parties and accompanying reality show are damaging the brand's image. Then we go inside to check out news from the virtual felt. Betfair is going public, while SpadeClub is just going away.
Hard Rock Brand Sues Casino; Says Image in Need of Rehab
Last week Inside Gaming brought you several stories about gaming companies considering name changes or arguing over trademark ownership. The eponym drama continues this week as the owners of the Hard Rock brand sue the Las Vegas Hard Rock hotel-casino over ownership of the internationally recognized name. The company wants to distance itself and the brand from the negative publicity surrounding the hotel-casino's Rehab pool parties and related reality TV show.
Hard Rock Cafe International Inc., an Orlando-based company, sued the owners of the Las Vegas property, Hard Rock Hotel Holdings LLC, and Rehab's producer in federal court in New York on Tuesday. The Florida company also sued Turner Broadcasting Systems for airing the TV show. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract and is seeking a court order to end the licensing agreement between Hard Rock Cafe and the owners of the casino.
The lawsuit says, "The behavior depicted in the Rehab television program…is entirely at odds with the brand image of the Hard Rock [trade]marks and is likely to damage and has damaged the goodwill of the Hard Rock marks among consumers." The suit charges Rehab with portraying the Hard Rock as "a destination that revels in drunken debauchery, acts of vandalism, sexual harassment, violence, criminality and a host of other behavior that mot members of the general consuming public…would find unseemly and objectionable."
And it's not just the reality TV version of the parties that Hard Rock Cafe International finds inappropriate. It is concerned about the pool parties themselves. Last year, eight people were arrested there on prostitution and drug charges.
The owners of the Las Vegas casino also use the Hard Rock name at hotel-casinos in Tulsa and Albuquerque. In the same suit, Hard Rock Cafe says that those properties misuse the name by not living up to the standards of quality associated with the brand.
Read more about the suit here.
If all that talk of partying in the sun gave you hives, don't worry. It's back to the world of online poker below.
Betfair to be Publicly Traded
Betfair announced on Tuesday that it plans to go public with a £1.5 billion listing on the London Stock Exchange. Betfair is the world's largest online betting community, with over 4 million registered users across its sports betting and poker sites. Betfair steers clear of U.S. customers but has a large following in Europe and Australia.
"Today is an important landmark in Betfair's story, which has been characterized by extraordinary innovation, success, growth and profitability since its launch ten years ago," said Betfair Chairman Ed Wray. "Becoming a publicly listed company will provide Betfair with the heightened profile and enhanced transparencies that will help us cement our long-term relationships with customers, regulators and business partners around the world."
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanely are acting as joint sponsors of the launch, while Barclays Capital and Numis are co-lead managers. The stock is expected to trade on the FTSE 250 index.
Betfair says it isn't raising any new money. Most of the IPO is expected to come from sales by its 14 major investors who own about 75 percent of the company.
SpadeClub Going Out of Business
After two years of experimentation, CardPlayer Magazine shut down its subscription-based poker site, SpadeClub.com. SpadeClub once offered $30,000 guaranteed tournaments each month and $5,000 guaranteed events every week, but CardPlayer was unable to find a profitable formula for the site. Many industry analysts thought that CardPlayer family member Jeff Shulman's November Nine appearance last year would give SpadeClub a boost to profitability, but the company was unable to cash in on the additional exposure.
The site's estimated 200,000 players were given 30 days from September 17th to cash out existing balances. SpadeClub members are also being directed to the ZEN Entertainment Network. SpadeClub sent its members an e-mail saying, "ZEN's VIP program will honor all time already purchased by SpadeClub members. Basic members can continue to play for free as well. ZEN Entertainment Network, based in Las Vegas, awards more than $100,000 in prizes a month. Subscription-based sites have the advantage of being able to operate legally from United States soil. Players pay a monthly fee for access to the site and entry into its tournaments rather than wagering actual money on a game-by-game basis.
Read more about the surprise closing here.
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