4/20/10 – Last week's news that Everest Poker owner Ultra Internet Media SA has charged the World Series of Poker of breaching a $22.5 million sponsorship contract has been followed by a denial from WSOP owner Harrah's Entertainment.
UIM launched the litigation earlier this (April) month in a Las Vegas federal court, claiming that WSOP breached its logo display agreement when an ESPN affiliate in Europe, Luxembourg-based television network RTL9, broadcast the tournament in France and electronically replaced the Everest Poker image with competitor Full Tilt Poker's logo.
In a response filed this week, and reported by the Las Vegas Sun, Harrah's legal representatives said that UIM entered into the agreement primarily to gain exposure in the United States for its Everest Poker website, that France is not mentioned in the agreement, and that same does not require that the event be broadcast into any particular country.
"Nobody from Harrah's made any representation during any of the negotiations or in the promotional agreement concerning any ESPN distribution or WSOP programming in France," the Harrah's filing claims. "Indeed, at the time of the negotiations, UIM did not have an online gaming license recognized by French authorities. It was broadly observed that poker programming was not distributed by French television stations unless tournaments were sponsored by a French licensee.
"In 2008 and 2009 the WSOP was broadcast by ESPN and parties with whom it has contracts in over 170 countries, including the United States, collectively to over 250 million households, for over 6 000 hours. Thus, UIM has certainly gained all the exposure for the everestpoker.net website that it could have hoped for, and more," the filing points out.
Apparently Everest-UIM complained to Harrah's about the French broadcasts deleting its logo in 2009 and a conciliatory arrangement was agreed through which ESPN would find a broadcaster for the WSOP in Spain and Italy at no extra cost to UIM and Everest Poker. Spain and Italy combined have about the same number of potential viewers as France, the filing said. It was also agreed that Everest Poker would be acknowledged as the WSOP sponsor in broadcasts to European countries, not including France.
In addition, claims the Harrah's response, Harrah's agreed Everest Poker would be described as the presenting sponsor of the WSOP during the broadcasts in certain European countries, but not France.