In this week’s episode, Nick and Mike waste no time in diving into an in-depth discussion on Wednesday’s big news on The Stars Group’s partnership with FOX Sports, what it means for US sports betting, and any ramifications to online poker. Mike then provides a brief update on the latest on the regulatory front, and then the pair finish up with a discussion on partypoker’s ambitious MILLIONS Online plan for next December, and their last-minute Las Vegas announcement.
- The Stars Group & FOX Sports partnership
- New Jersey’s Wire Act court case
- MILLIONS Online details, and a Las Vegas special
Mike: Hello and welcome, everyone, to The Pokerfuse Podcast. This is episode number 14 coming at you on May the 9th. My name is Mike Gentile. I’m here along with my co-host, Nick Jones. Nick, what’s going on today?
Nick: Hi. Yes, all good here. Another— off the back of last week saying it was a really nice quiet week. It’s been another good, just grinding it out type of week. There’s been some interesting news that we’ll be talking about this episode, but nothing that’s making us work 16 hours a day, so that’s always nice.
Mike: Yes, not overwhelming, but definitely enough to keep us busy. This will probably be a standard-sized episode. I’m not sure what standard-size equals anymore, but we definitely have enough to fill a full episode and probably will go over.
Nick: Yes. I thought we’d be talking in this intro about how this could be, officially, the end of season one of The Pokerfuse Podcast because you’re away next week, but then you blindside me with, “No, no problem,” you’re going to take the microphone with you on your travels. Next week’s episode might be half coming live from Las Vegas, is that right?
Mike: Yes. I am taking a bit of a personal holiday. I’m going to be spending some time in the Grand Canyon, but there are going to be a couple of days of Vegas time on the back end of that trip and will definitely be available and able to record the podcast next week, hopefully, not 100% but we’ll play it out and see how things go. There is a good likelihood that we will still be coming at you with a continuation of season one.
Nick: Yes. Okay. Well, with that in mind, let’s dive into episode 14.
Mike: Just last night, word came out that there’s a new partnership that will affect online gaming in the US, and could affect or at least have some residual effect on PokerStars. Nick, what can you tell us on that deal?
Nick: Yes, this will be— I’m sure many listeners will have already heard by the time this podcast is produced that PokerStars has announced a very long term partnership with Fox Corporation, the company behind Fox News and Fox Sports, to take the Fox brand into regulated US sports betting.
Mike: Yes, very long term. I believe it’s a 25-year deal, yes?
Nick: Yes. There’s quite a few interesting strands to talk about here. We’ll talk about some of the specifics of the deal, talk about a bit of the history and how this was somewhat expected, but there’s some interesting facets of the deal itself and the implications for online poker or lack thereof, and the implications for the industry as a whole. Yes, the partnership is a 25-year partnership agreement. Fox has the option within the first 10 years of acquiring 50% of the Stars Group’s entire US-facing gambling operation.
Mike: Yes, that struck me as the most significant news coming out of that press release, is giving Fox the option to buy 50% of the Stars Group. That’s major.
Nick: That’s only for the US-facing operations, so it’s not—
Mike: Right. Yes, right. Yes.
Nick: We should probably start with some more of the top line information. Under the partnership, Fox is purchasing 4.99%, so just under 5%, I doubt that’s a coincidence, shares of the Stars Group of their entire organization for $236 million. That is the price of the shares when they close this deal. They’re buying that 5% stake in the business. PokerStars is going to use that money to pay off some of the debt that they’ve got and for general operating expenses.
PokerStars has committed to a minimum advertising spend across Fox’s media. That amount is not disclosed, but on the investor’s call today, the Stars Group says that the minimum is very low and they expect to spend a lot more than that because the portfolio of products that Fox has for advertising is so large, they expect to exceed that. The pair together will be launching under the Fox brand, are both free-to-play, and where possible, regulated US sports book.
Mike: Yes, this seems to be very reminiscent of some of the deals we saw with the DFS companies when they first started making partnerships. The part that really stuck out to me was that minimum ad buy. It seems between the Stars Group promising or committing to a minimum amount of dollars they’re going to spend on ad buys and including an affiliate type deal with their— It seems like it could be pretty lucrative for Fox.
Nick: Yes, so I actually listened in, it was, again, not coincidentally Fox Corporation’s Investor Day, their first ever Investor Day which are big annual presentations for investors. These things go on for like three to five hours. I managed to get through the first hour and a half of it before calling it a day, and I started to record this podcast. That exposed me to the Fox Corporation business, which I’m not familiar with, but they said they’re pretty much down the line 50-50 ad sales and affiliate revenue.
That’s their model. Yes, Fox is getting both of that. They are getting affiliate revenue for, obviously, any revenue generated from the Fox Bet’s real money sports betting platform, and they are guaranteed a certain amount of advertising the Stars Group will be purchasing from the Fox media organization. PokerStars’ Stars Group said today that they’re basically considering this a 50-50 joint venture with Fox from day one.
Although Fox has the option to exercise the purchase to make it a 50-50 joint venture, Stars Group is basically approaching it in that way. It’s the two of them going together using Fox’s brand, the Stars Group expertise and platform for regulated sports betting.
Mike: The first question on my mind is, what impact, if any, is this going to have on online poker in the US?
Nick: Right. In the US, the initial things that they’ll be doing with this branding is, PokerStars is currently just live in New Jersey and they have their bet styles brand in New Jersey. That will change to Fox Bet ahead of the new football season which is September time. I expect that’s going to be a fairly straight swap over the brand from Betstar to Fox Bet. I think this Fox Bet brand will be used as PokerStars hopes to proliferate their sports betting across the United States where possible.
Pennsylvania will, obviously, be the next one hopefully, and maybe that will debut as Fox Bet if the timing is right. Ultimately, it’s fairly limited because PokerStars’ penetration is quite light, but it prepares them for , as you say, it’s a 25-year partnership. This is a very long-term prospects that the two companies have that as new states come online, this will be the brand that the PokerStars use for sports betting. Poker is still going to be PokerStars. The PokerStars brand is not going anywhere in any places PokerStars operates, but starting next season, rather than Betstars, it will be FoxBets. That’s my understanding of it in the US markets.
Mike: Yes. I wonder if we won’t see a Fox poker skin on the PokerStars network eventually.
Nick: Yes, that’s possible. From what PokerStars has said before, and the reason why we know so much about this is because they’ve been talking about this for six months. We’ll circle back and touch on that in a second, but from what we understand is that they’ve got different strategies in different markets, and so in the international segment, and so a lot of our listeners, if you’re in the UK, if you’re in Canada, if you’re anywhere and PokerStars is the brand you play on, the sports betting will probably stay Betstars, and the casino will remain PokerStars casino.
However, so they purchased Sky Betting and Gaming a year ago, and that’s a big sports book in the UK. It also has a small online poker room. They’re planning to use that brand, the Sky Bet brand in some markets, so they’ve already gone live in Italy. Sky Bet is the brand. If you are in the PokerStars client in Italy, along the tabs, along the top part, “Sky Bet by PokerStars,” that’s what it says. There is no Betstars, it’s Sky Bet. This is what I expect to see in PokerStars New Jersey. You download the online poker client next to PokerStars. The PokerStars lobby, and PokerStars casino, they will be “Fox Bet powered by Betstars.”
Mike: Okay, so that answers a lot of my questions because I was wondering how they would leverage this partnership to get their brand name, the PokerStars’ brand name out there. Now that you mentioned how they’ve done it with Sky Bet in Europe, that does make a lot of sense, the “powered by PokerStars” allows them to get their brand, their name known by people in markets that have yet to embrace or legalize online poker.
Nick: Yes. The reality is with the United States is that we’re expecting sports betting— and Mike, you can probably add a bit more color to this bit. We’re expecting sports betting to proliferate much faster in the United States than online poker. This flexibility allows— I expect Fox Bet for real money is going to be active where there is no online poker and there is no online casino. It’ll just be sports betting.
Mike: Right. There’s part of this deal, one of the other products also includes a free-to-play product. How are we looking at that being a strategic piece in the branding exercise?
Nick: Yes. This will also be called Fox Bet. As you say, it’ll be a free-to-play— I mean, basically, sports betting, but for free. There’s probably going to be some real money, prizes that you can win if you make predictions. Maybe there’ll be a fancy element, but I’m just guessing off the cuff here. It will be your standard kind of building your customer database, building that engagement so that when regulated sports betting comes to that state, they’ve got the database they’ve got a lot of details about the customers and what they like to play and what sports they’re interested in so they can switch on online sports betting for them and have a very engaged set of players or pre-acquired ready to go.
That seems to be their plan, and that’s going to roll out nationwide as soon as possible. Now, the idea that this came from and the reason why this goes back quite a few months this plan is the Stars Group is talked for at least six months about wanting to do exactly this. They acquired Sky Betting and Gaming last year, and Sky Betting and Gaming had great success working with Sky, a UK Broadcasting company and, in many respects, like the Fox Sports, UK version of Fox Sports in the UK.
This Sky Betting and Gaming was actually initially entirely created within Sky broadcasting, their sports betting arm. It was deeply integrated into the Sky product, and Sky is synonymous in the UK with Premier League Football, which is, by far, the biggest sport the biggest bet sport in this country. They have had for years and years the exclusive rights to broadcast through their pay-per-view satellite channels, football, and so Sky was always there, always plastered across the stadiums on the screen.
That’s why it rose very quickly to be one of the largest sports betting operations in the company. it wasn’t just branding. As I understand it, they have a very good platform, a very smart team, but this is why the PokerStars justifies spending closed at $5 billion on Sky Betting and Gaming. It was taking that model and applying it to the US markets.
Mike: Yes. As you said, they have made it known that this is the strategy that they were pursuing in the US. I know we had speculated a couple of times on who the last piece of that strategy would be to this media partnership that we actually saw come to fruition yesterday. I know we had speculated a couple of times on who that media partner might be. There was, I’d say, a fairly limited amount of potential partners that were big enough to achieve the type of success that they had in the UK.
Fox was definitely one that was on the radar. It’ll be interesting to see, moving forward, how they’re able to blend the brands, how they’re able to maybe take the reputation of each of the brands and bring that together to make a product or an image or branding that it fits both ends of that spectrum.
Nick: Yes. As you say, it was either going to be Fox or maybe ESPN or NBC. They were the main candidates for PokerStars to do this. Fox is probably, in retrospect, it’s easy to say now, but it has deep corporate ties back to Rupert Murdoch’s media global organization, which Sky has as well. It was used to be owned by 21st Century Fox. You can read their article, and probably, that digs into a bit more of the details of these two companies, but there are deep similarities between the two outfits.
I think the interesting thing with the news yesterday was, on one hand, it is very much expected, but I think the type of partnership that the companies have formed is what makes it very interesting because it’s something that we’ve talked about in the past that they said they’ve wanted to replicate the success that Sky Betting had in the UK Market, but, of course, Sky was fully incubated within the broadcasting company when it first grew.
It was later spun off to an investment company, then it was purchased by PokerStars, but it always retained these exclusive rights to the Sky brand and continues to sponsor the Premier League and all these other things. But it initially started within Sky itself. Whenever PokerStars talked about having these branding partnerships, it had to be a deep partnership because, otherwise, those synergies that they’re talking about, those things that the Sky had just wouldn’t apply to this US market.
There will still be questions about whether it still applies, whether that Sky model that they had, and— I just got off on a slight tangent. One thing that Sky did very well is they had this free-to-play product. I think it’s called Super Six, which was— I’m not that familiar with it. I believe it’s a kind of fantasy sports type thing for football that it’s free-to-play and has real prizes if you pick the results of like six matches or something.
That’s not fantasy at all. I think it was just like a basic predictor thing. That has been credited with the great success of getting people familiar with the idea of sports betting and converting them into real money players. They want to take that model into the US market. That’s still untested to some extent, but the partnership that they have shows that Fox is very much invested both with their revenue streams.
Both their advertising and their affiliate deal is deeply intertwined. They have this option to, ultimately, over multiple years a decade plus grow this, basically a joint venture with both benefiting. This is why it’s been such interesting news over the last 24 hours and seeing the reactions, both the positive actions to the share price of the Stars Group and just generally the discussions that have been online about this.
Mike: Yes, the free-to-play product definitely has its potential. It’s a bit different here in the US market in such that not all of the states are, first of all, have legalized sports betting. Even as it rolls out on a state by state basis, they’re not all going to be coming online at the same time. With that, I think there is the opportunity, probably a bigger opportunity to get people engaged with the brand and get them at least trying out the free-to-play product in some states where sports betting has yet to proliferate. Then also, in the states where it has, it is maybe a stepping stone to actual real money gaming.
Nick: Yes. A question I have for you. For me, from my European perspective, the brand Fox is definitely synonymous with certain. I immediately think of Fox News and the political leanings of the Fox News organization. It certainly has a particular— I’m not quite sure what—
Mike: Feel for it. [crosstalk]
Nick: Yes, a particular feel to it. I wonder, in your opinion, whether Fox Sports has that or, I don’t know, in the consumer’s mind, it’s quite separate to the Fox News organization, and whether that is something PokerStars would have considered if they wanted to align themselves with the heavily right-leaning Trump supporting Fox brand.
Mike: Yes, Fox is so much bigger of a brand than Fox News alone. Yes, Fox Sports, especially when it comes to football, is a big name, one of the big broadcasters.
They have a license with the NFL to broadcast a section of their games. Fox is also named synonymous with films. It’s broader than just the Fox News brand. I’d find it hard to believe that there isn’t at least some correlation in people’s minds between those brands whether or not it’s going to be something that pushes people away from that particular products.
I’d be surprised at this point. It’s definitely an interesting thing to consider, and it’s probably something that we may see play out depending on the direction of Fox News in general. It’s very fluid, let’s say that. They could very easily change tax or direction depending on what happens politically in this country that I think could increase or decrease that relationship.
Nick: You touched on that earlier, just another difference between the UK and the US market, is that Sky was very much exclusively broadcasting their Premier League matches and was entirely synonymous basically with the sport in a televised fashion. Of course, in the US, you don’t really have those arrangements. Fox doesn’t have— or correct me if I’m wrong, it’s not the exclusive provider of NFL, MLB. ESPN and other shows also—
Mike: Right, but they do have some exclusivity. I’m just talking off the top of my head. It’s been a while since I’ve actually watched football on television. I used to be a big fan. I believe Fox has the exclusive rights, or maybe at least partially exclusive rights, to broadcast the NFC Games, which is one half of the NFL. They do have some exclusivity they share with other networks. I believe ESPN, they used to have Thursday games. I’m a bit off on my broadcast partnerships with the NFL, but Fox definitely does have some exclusivity with regard to the NFL games.
Nick: Okay, so there you go. Yes. The next step, as we expect to see here, is that they want to launch Fox Bet, the brand, both the free play up and where they can be. It’s regulation that’s in time for football. In the next, what, four months time, they expect that to go live. Then PokerStars will be looking at— They have a partnership with Eldorado Resorts, which they hope would unlock access to 11 more states if and when they come online.
They also said today in the investors call that they feel that their partnership with Fox gives them a lot more clout when it comes to forming access partnerships with other states, so that Fox name will help them form even better deals to other states when they need to for further access.
Nick: Continuing on the topic of the United States and regulation there, last week, we talked about a segment about potential avenues forward for the reinterpretation of the Wire Act. In the last week, we have had a little bit more further development in terms of a court case with New Jersey. Mike.
Mike: Yes. What we’ve seen is we’ve seen New Jersey actually sue the Department of Justice. What they’re attempting to do is they’re trying to get the information that may have led to the decision to reinterpret the Wire Act. There were plenty of media reports coming out soon after the revised opinion was released linking some of the main components of the new opinion with talking points that had been lobbied for by interests that were against online gaming and particularly those that were associated with Sheldon Adelson.
Nick: Do we have any idea of the validity of these arguments and whether— Timing-wise, this is cutting it very, very close now for a savior decision to come and help online poker.
Mike: Right. From a validity standpoint, there’s definitely evidence that suggests that there was some influence there. For example, the DOJ has acknowledged that they had in their possession a memo written by or funded by Sheldon Adelson’s lobbyist at the time that that new decision was created. It may not be a direct cause and effect relationship, but there is at least enough evidence to suggest, “Hey let’s take a look at that.”
Practically speaking, I don’t expect anything to come out of this. The reason that we are seeing this lawsuit, to begin with, is the DOJ is basically stonewalling the efforts by New Jersey to get this information. I don’t anticipate that that is going to change. It’s as you suggested or as you mentioned, the deadline is quickly approaching. What we’re going to find out is that these court cases take a long time to wind through the process. I don’t anticipate anything to really come of this.
It seems to be more show than anything else, and just getting it on the record. It’s something that I guess could turn into something, but I don’t expect that that will happen. I expect that perhaps, we will see more coming out of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission case, which is the one where we had talked about last week that there were some proposals for some specific path forward. I expect that to have more of an impact on the future of interstate online gaming in the US than this lawsuit brought by New Jersey.
Nick: Okay. This is something that we will keep tabs on and keep our listeners up to date with. As the day says, we are what? A month or so away. Well, we’re only like three weeks away until the start of the World Series of Poker, a month or so away until operators have to bring their operations in line with this new Wire Act reinterpretation. Yes, the first two bracelet events that will be available in New Jersey are coming up very soon. The ones afterward is still a question mark. This will have to resolve itself one way or the other to some clarity.
Mike: It is also possible that we get another extension on this enforcement deadline. I believe the third online event at the WSOP this year is happening on June 16th, so just after the enforcement deadline. Any extension of that deadline would likely mean that more of these online bracelet events are going to be made available to players in New Jersey.
Nick: Switching back to the world of online poker, something that we just published today on Poker Industry PRO. Looks like a headline that we ran about a month ago, when we reported exclusively that partypoker will be bringing back millions online again this year with reportedly a $20 million guarantee. Soon after we published that information, the information on the partypoker website was withdrawn. We got indications that this was far from clear. But this week, partypoker have, in fact, confirmed some details, Mike.
Mike: Yes, so they will be attaching another $20 million guarantee to the tournament. There was some speculation there. I think that Patrick Leonard had hinted that because the buy-in may be going up that we also might see the guarantee going up. That was not the case. The guarantee stays at the same $20 million as it was last year, but indeed, the buy-in did go up to $10,300. It’s a $10,000 buy-in, whereas last year, it was a $5,000 buy-in. That is a bit of a difference from last year. Perhaps the most significant piece of that is that this will not be a single standalone event this year. Partypoker will surround it with other side events and make it a full-blown poker festival.
Nick: Yes, there’s actually quite a lot of interesting little strands of information here. Firstly, just repeating, like $20 million guaranteed for a single online poker tournament is huge. When partypoker ran this last year, I think few expected them to meet that guarantee. They did, almost covered it by almost 10% extra. They attracted 4,367 entrance total to generate a prize pool of almost $22 million. Now, a lot of that prize pool came from a lot of satellite giveaways that they had, which probably cost partypoker quite a lot.
No one’s really pretending there that this was entirely players money that build that prize pool. Regardless, it was still an impressive feat. It ran without a hitch. There was no server issue,s there were no DDoS attacks or anything like that. They ran by far the largest online poker tournament ever held. The next one smaller to that was a PokerStars Sunday Million Anniversary events, one which actually ran recently, one that ran about 10 years ago. They each had about $12 million prize pools, $10 million guarantee. These are massive tournaments, and that shouldn’t be understated. Partypoker is doing it again this year. It deserves commendation.
Mike: Yes, definitely looking at the next biggest online event puts a lot of important context around that $20 million number. As you said, the next biggest was a Sunday Million Anniversary edition which had a $10 million guarantee attached to it. Looking at that, there’s other important aspects or differences between these two tournaments that are interesting to note. The buy-in, for example, where last year, the $20 million guarantee had a $5,300 buy-in. That $10 million guarantee for Sunday Million Anniversary edition was a $215 buy-in.
Nick: Sure, so very different kind of tournaments. In fact, probably the better comparison is the fourth largest online poker tournament ever held as we understand, is the WCOOP main event which has a $5,000 buy-in, so similar to last year’s, and that had a $10 million guarantee and covered by 20%. You’re absolutely right, they’re very different. This year, it’s a $10,000 guarantee. Obviously, that costs a lot more to enter, but they need half the players to fill it.
Depending on your perspective and what type of player base they’ve got, you could argue that it’s much easier to fill. With that said, something that partypoker have done absolutely will make it a lot harder to field than last time, which is the number of day ones they’re having. Last year, they had five-day ones. Each of them allowed three entries every day to allow people to fire multiple bullets across multiple days. I think that period spanned a week. This time, they only have two day ones.
Mike: Yes. That’ll be interesting. Their limiting the number of day ones could have a significant impact on total turnout. That being said, with the price point at $10,000, you’re not going to have that many people that are able to fire a bullet every day on five-day ones similar to the way that some people may have had multiple bullets last year. It was still a $5,000 buy-in. It’s definitely still an elite group of people that are able to fire multiple bullets, but doubling that buy-in, it probably reduces it quite significantly.
Nick: In fact, what we know is, last year, it had 4,400 entries. They had— I’ve just got the number, it’s just here. They had 2,200 unique players. On average, everyone re-entered at least once, but in reality, that’s a lot of people entering once and a lot of people entering probably two, three, four, five times. This time around, basically, day one A and day one B plays individual freezeouts. If you bust out at day one A, you can enter day one B, but you can’t re-enter on that same day.
The maximum anyone can play is twice. The reality is, most people will play just once. They will probably need, I would guess, at least 1,600, maybe 1,700 individual players, assuming that we have 300 to 400 people who fire again on day one B if they bust out. Again, last year, they only had 2,200. They need almost the same number of individual people as they did last time despite double buy-in to cover. Another factor is last year, they gave themselves like 10 months to ramp up with satellites and promotions. They’ve just announced this with five months to go. It’s half the time to promote it. This seems very, very ambitious to me.
Mike: I agree. I think that’s some good perspective that you put around it, is that the average investment per unique player last year was about 10,000 which is the minimum this year. That’s ambitious on its own, and as you point out, the timeframe. To me, it means that party is definitely going to have to make a bigger investment, whether it’s promoting the satellites or giving away more entries. I don’t think there’s any way around that given the short amount of time. In case we hadn’t mentioned it, its millions online is scheduled to run December 1st, correct?
Nick: Yes. The one thing they changed from what they revealed a month ago was they have pushed the date back fractionally. It was initially scheduled for the end of November. Now, it starts December 1st, ends December 10th. There’s a week between the day one A and day one B, so that’s smart. If you bust out day one A, you’ve got a week worth of satellites and free rolls and whatever to have a second shot to get a second bullet.
Then the day after day one B, there’s day two, and then it concludes on day three, I think. Then also, surrounding that, we do expect this time also for there to be a tournament series. Last year, they planned this as well. They announced ahead of time it would be a high roller series that was going to surround that event. That just disappeared and it ended up running on its own.
This time, it seems even more concrete that they will. They have stated now multiple times that there will be some form of tournament series surrounding it, no details there. That can only help generate buzz, which is important because, again, this does stand on its own. It’s two to three months after the normal WCOOPs and presumably a power fest in the fall time. It stands on uncertainty. It needs to generate that buzz only five months out. It’ll be fascinating to see how this goes.
Mike: One thing, and maybe you can help clarify, I thought I had read, but I’m having trouble finding it now, is one of the changes from last year to this year is this year, they’re going to be allowing direct buy-in to day two. Is that correct? Or am I confusing [crosstalk] different?
Nick: I haven’t read that. If that is the case, that definitely changes things. That changes things quite substantially. People can buy directly into day two, although that entry is going to be extremely high. It’s going to be like $50,000 or something. I haven’t read that. Quickly, do some Googling now and I’ll play some elevator music.
Mike: Right [chuckles] . That may be just me confusing it with something else because, yes, I’m not seeing it anywhere either in the press release.
Nick: You were going to talk us through the Vegas event, the Millions Special Edition. Was is that that you saw it in?
Mike: Yes. Maybe that was it. Maybe that was it. Yes. It was definitely the Millions Special Edition of Las Vegas. It is something that was also new this week and partypoker is— This is the first Millions event that they’ve had in the US. It will run right before the main event and in the World Series. I have to say that when I first saw that news come through, it was a bit surprising for me because I’m like, “Wait a minute,” partypoker has had plenty of live events especially in Vegas, but as I came around to realize, I was thinking of the WPT500, which WPT and partypoker have traditionally had some very close ties, both being owned by Bwin at one point way back, but partypoker also did sponsor the WPT500. WPT500 will run again this year. It will run right prior to the partypoker Millions Las Vegas event which, again, is just preceding the start of the main event in Las Vegas.
Nick: Yes. Partypoker, on the Millions tour, they have a North America stop. They always have them. I think this year, they have four or five, one online which we just talked about, one in Europe. Now, I can’t remember where the other ones are. They have one in South America. They have one in North America, but it’s always in Canada, so within the Playground Poker Club. There’s a few things that surprise me . They literally just announced this today. It’s happening in like a month and a half’s time. Really late notice in my mind, but I suppose that’s not a big deal because it’s a $10,000 buy-in event. Am I right? Which is what the standard for a Millions now.
Mike: Right, so a $10,300 buy-in event. Yes, I am seeing that, here, this is the direct buy-in to day two that I was referencing. It’s not for the online, it is for the Las Vegas event. As you mentioned there, it is a bit late perhaps in the game to be announcing this, but I have a feeling that their target audience for this event, everyone that would be interested in entering this event is going to be in town anyway.
Nick: Yes. That’s it. Everyone is there. All the high rollers are there. Then, I’m just thinking like, “Why is it the first time they do it? Why isn’t this more common?” There’s PokerStars. The obvious answer is because there’s no regulated online poker. PokerStars can’t even operate in Nevada. Partypoker can’t operate in Nevada under their own brand. With everybody there, it seems like a fairly easy branding exercise.
Mike: Right. I was thinking about that as I saw this news come across as well. I haven’t really had time to dig into it, but as you mentioned, PokerStars is restricted from offering online poker in Nevada. If I’m going back a ways to when Nevada legalized online poker, they did have what we typically refer to as bad actor clause there. My recollection is a bit fuzzy at this point, so if anyone has some clarity, please feel free to chime in, tweet at us, let us know, but as I recall, it was two-pronged with their bad actor clause.
There was the bad actor which was the company part of it, and then there was also the assets related to online poker that had been offered in the US prior to the UIGEA which was 2006. If I recall correctly, the bad actor clause that talked about the company part had a specific time period for which they would be locked out, but the asset clause, I believe, was unlimited.
How that plays into PokerStars actually running a live event in Nevada, I’m not sure because technically, there would be no assets that were used in offering online poker wagers prior to 2006, but there may be other complications that I’m just not aware of or I could be misremembering a lot of these details as well. Yes, as you point out, I’m surprised that we’re not seeing more branding-type live events happening in Las Vegas around the World Series of Poker from some of the other operators.
Nick: It surprises me that they’ve never done this before even dating back, because they used to be parypoker, PokerStars branding. Prior to Black Friday, PokerStars would be branded all over the place in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker, and constant cash players and player parties and that kind of thing.
Mike: Back in the day, it was quite the party out there for the online poker brands, but that I believe after the passage of UIGEA, it really pulled back a bit. It’s unclear to me. Even operators that are perhaps not the biggest names, I think there’s opportunities to run co-branded lower stake buy-in events or series in Las Vegas during the World Series as well, if indeed those operators have plans to expand into the US market for online poker.
Nick: Was it the ARIA that’s being held up?
Mike: Yes. That is at the ARIA. The other thing with regards to the shortness of the notice here is that ARIA runs their own high rollers series that goes on during the World Series of Poker. They’ve got their hands on [crosstalk] —
Nick: That’s really, really popular as well, isn’t it?
Mike: Right. That also lends itself to not having to have a huge runway to get this promoted out there because like we mentioned before, the players that they’re targeting for this event will be in town. They’ll be playing the ARIA high roller events, they’ll be playing the main event. It’s definitely going to be a pretty packed schedule in Las Vegas this summer.
Mike: Well, Nick, this episode has taken on a life of its own as all of them usually do. From a time perspective, we did pretty good. We may have rambled a bit here and there, but I think we dug deep into some topics and there’s still some other topics that didn’t quite make the cut. Maybe we’ll get to those next week when I’m in Vegas.
Nick: Yes. I suppose it’s always good to have stuff that didn’t quite make. It gives us a feeling that we could always be adding more, leaving the listeners wanting.
Mike: Yes. As usual, all feedback is welcome. I actually have some feedback that I need to respond to. I want to apologize to Michael Joseph. He had sent me a direct message via Twitter regarding a previous broadcast, maybe not even the last one. Maybe it was the one prior to that. That went unnoticed by me for a while. I definitely want to get back to you, sir. Anyone else that has any feedback, please feel free to tweet at us. I’m @SpookyBugs. Nick, you are?
Nick: I am @pokerprojones.
Mike: Yes. Please provide any feedback. Positive and negative are always welcome. Until next time, we will see you.