Remember the excitement and publicity surrounding the advent of the Pokerdome just last year? The $12 million, hi-tech poker venue in Las Vegas looked set to revolutionise poker competitions with interesting high-tech innovations. Design features aimed at increasing spectator appeal were built in, like LED displays for the dealer button and players' pulse rates monitored in high-pressure situations and displayed to the audience from an encapsulated playing area.

Only a year old and shutdown in progress after major sponsor pulls out

This week it appeared to be all over as a three-year lease and plans to broadcast 43 events a year were abandoned by Mansion Poker.net and the Fox Sports Network only a year from the opening. The company which held the Poker Dome lease made a statement announcing the shutdown following the withdrawal of Mansion and Fox Sports TV network.

The announcement said the company had received word at the end of its first season that the network no longer wanted to produce the show, and that the Poker Dome will therefore be shut down on August 1. The Las Vegas mall that housed the dome, Neonopolis, comfirmed that Fox Sports had been released from their three year lease commitment.

Given the mainly American audiences and political and legislative developments in the United States since last October regarding online gambling, it is not surprising that Mansion has withdrawn, industry observers commented this week. Mansion was forced to exit the US market following passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits financial transactions with Internet gambling companies.

The closure is disappointing as Poker Dome had extraordinary potential – in one full season that included high-profile events, Rodel Tuazon won over $1 million in the Poker Dome Challenge and Gavin Smith collected $500 000 in the World Pro-Am Challenge, events that drew significant television audiences.