4/3/10 – The Las Vegas Sun broke news of a $22.5 million legal tussle between Everest Poker owners Ultra Internet Media and the owners of the World Series of Poker, Las Vegas giant Harrah's Entertainment this week.
Ultra Internet Media is claiming in federal court legal filings that Harrah's-WSOP breached its multi-million dollar sponsorship contract in 2008 and 2009, and that it intends that the Everest Poker sponsorship for the 2010 tournament be withdrawn.
Ultra Internet Media-Everest claims that the sponsorship deal called for Everest Poker's logo to appear prominently on the felt on every table in the competition, and on the inner rung of the WSOP feature table during the finals. However, it alleges that in 2008 and 2009 Harrah’s breached the sponsorship deal when ESPN broadcasts of the tournament by an affiliate in France, television channel RTL9, failed to display Everest’s name and logo – instead displaying the name and logo of competitor Full Tilt Poker.
The lawsuit seeks a court order validating UIM’s claim that the contract has been breached.
"The suit charges that officials with Harrah’s, Everest and ESPN met at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., in February 2009 to discuss issues with the broadcasts and that ‘Harrah’s and ESPN agreed to control their affiliate, RTL9, and require RTL9 to cease causing violations of the agreement during its broadcasts and transmissions into France,'" reports the Las Vegas Sun.
"But as recently as Feb. 14, 2010, the Full Tilt name and logo were included in a broadcast of a WSOP event into France by RTL9. Every material breach of the agreement represents lost potential future profits, erosion of goodwill and compromise of UIM’s international business reputation, charges the lawsuit, filed by attorneys with the Las Vegas law firm Marquis & Aurbach."
Ultra Internet Media's filing notes that the company does not generate gaming revenue or profits in the United States by way of the Internet or telephone, but that its largest source of revenue and profit is from customers in France.
Seth Palansky, a spokesman for Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment Inc. and Harrah’s World Series of Poker, told the Las Vegas Sun Friday that the company had not been served with the lawsuit and would have no immediate comment on the allegations.
Ultra Internet Media is a licensee of online gambling software developed by GigaMedia Ltd., a company based in Hong Kong and in Taipei, Taiwan, which in December announced a deal to sell 60 percent of its online gambling software business to European online gambling operator Mangas Gaming