Two Sales and a Retirement
News of a two possible sales and a retirement announcement all affecting poker were in the news this week. We'll start with the good news first.
Internet online gaming opponent Jon Kyl announced this week that he is retiring from the U.S. Senate. He will not seek re-election in 2012 for the Senate seat he has held for nearly 18 years. The Arizona Senator was one of the principal backers of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. The UIGEA forced Party Poker and many other online poker rooms out of the U.S. market. Kyl has been online gambling's leading opponent in the Senate since UIGEA pilot Bill Frist retired in 2007.
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While Kyl's seat is likely to remain in Republican control, it's good news for poker that this strong voice against online gaming will no longer be on Capitol Hill a couple of years.
According to a blog on Las Vegas Weekly, Caesars Entertainment may be about to announce the sale of their Rio property. Rio has been home to the WSOP since 2005. The Light Group, which operates many nightlife clubs in Las Vegas, is reportedly interested in acquiring the Rio to add a casino property to their portfolio. The same company reportedly took a serious look at buying the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas late last year.
If there is indeed weight to this rumor and Caesars soon sells Rio, it would have to be assumed that the 2011 WSOP will be held at a new venue. However, these rumors could just be another instance of gossip and little more. Last April, BusinessWeek.com reported that Starwood Capital Group LLC and Colony Capital LLC were close to acquiring the Rio for around $500 million. That potential sale had the poker world's attention throughout the summer as many assumed it would be the final year for the WSOP at Rio. The sale never materialized. Just when it started to look as though Rio was a lock to host the 2011 WSOP, this new rumor has the poker world again wondering if 2011 is the year for a new venue.
Stay tuned to the PokerTips blog for up-to-date information on the potential sale of the Rio.
As bwin and Party Poker deliberate over their impending merger, bwin has indicated they may sell the OnGame Network. bwin purchased the OnGame Network in 2005 for £474 million. A bwin spokesman told EGR magazine this week that the network is no longer needed and potentially up for sale.
According to PokerScout.com, OnGame is the second-largest poker network behind iPoker. The network is home to sites like Betfair Poker and RedKings. It is not clear if bwin is motivated to sell the network promptly. In the discussion with EGR, the unnamed bwin representative said the company feels that regulatory developments in the U.S. would raise interest in the network. So it's possible bwin will hold onto the OnGame Network while waiting for a magical bit of legislation to increase its value.
It is unclear how a potential sale would affect players at existing OnGame skins. However, with sales and mergers of this sort in the past, the transition is usually pretty transparent from the customer standpoint.