The World Series of Poker took one more step to becoming a formidable player in the online gaming world on September 11th, 2009. Harrah's Interactive Entertainment and 888 Holdings reached a deal where 888's Dragonfish division will provide online poker and casino gaming software to Harrah's as it tries to enter the online gambling market.
WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky said that the goal is to be in the online gaming market, wherever it is allowed. He added that they have collaborated with 888 to create a gaming platform. No timeline was set for Harrah's online debut, but it was confirmed that both the World Series of Poker and Caesars Casino brands will have an online presence.
Aside from that, Dragonfish will also offer ePayments, VIP services and Customer Service to help develop both gaming brands. 888 Holdings is a well-known player in the online gambling market in Europe but not as well-known in the United States after pulling out of the gaming market when the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was enforced in October 2006.
Although the 888.com online site offers no games, it acts as a bridge to well-known online gaming sites like Pacific Poker, Reef Club Casino and 888sports. Gigi Levy, the Chief Executive Officer of 888 said that this is a historic agreement for 888.com and shows that their ability to provide good value to popular land-based casinos and their leading gaming brands.
It still remains to be seen if the World Series of Poker having a web presence would be a conflict of interest with live poker events sponsors like Betfair and Everest Poker. Palansky did not see it becoming a controversial issue and said that the WSOP will remain a top live poker destination. He added that their offline poker events are good opportunities for their sponsors.
Palansky stated that if all this pushes through and they develop an online gambling site then they would be competing in some of the same gaming markets. He said that they would still have relationships with other online sites.
Mitch Garber, the Chief Executive Officer of Harrah's Interactive Entertainment said that as they develop and launch their interactive strategy, they have chosen to partner with 888 because of their world class technology and solid commitment to responsible gaming.
The announcement of the joint venture between Harrah's and 888 comes just as the United States appears to be opening up to the idea of legalizing online poker. Palansky said that they are hopeful that the US market will open but if not they will focus on other markets.