Harrah’s New Online Poker Unit Coming to Montreal

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:

As first reported on Gambling911.com, Harrah's will be launching a new online unit. Its mandate is to take the World Series of Poker brand online and to look for new partnerships with brick-and-mortar casinos around the world, according to Lynn Moore of the Montreal Gazette, but the company will also look to jump head first into the global online poker market through a partnership with an already established Internet poker network.  PartyGaming has been widely rumored as the company that will join forces with Harrah's.  That's because Harrah's Interactive Entertainment has employed Mitch Garber, a former executive with Party, as its CEO.

And Garber apparently wields enough power to influence Harrah's decision to set up shop in Montreal.  

"I'm really happy to bring Harrah's to Montreal," Garber said.  He is a native of the city.

Harrah's agreed that he could manage the World Series of Poker teams already in Las Vegas and England out of a Montreal office and still focus on growing the 40-year-old Vegas-based competition, according to the Gazette.

"There is a hunger for World Series of Poker events, like PGA golf, with events taking place everywhere, whether it is Moscow, Montreal, Rome. Our intent is to deal with government and licensing authorities in every jurisdiction to grow the World Series of Poker," he said yesterday.

From the Gazette:

The business plan has two main goals, said Garber, who has invested "substantially" in the privately held Harrah's.

The first is "to offer online gaming in the U.K. and potentially elsewhere in Europe where it is legal and government-licensed."

Harrah's already has an interactive gaming licence issued in Alderney, a British Channel Island, he said. But no decisions or commitments have been made in that or any other jurisdiction, he said.

In the U.S., a bill was introduced this month to overturn a 3-year-old ban on Internet gambling. Harrah's is among the entities supporting the legislation that would allow Americans to gamble online for money, instead of playing the current "for fun only" games.

The second part of Garber's game plan is "to explore partnerships with governments that will offer online poker in their lotteries or ... would invite the World Series of Poker and Harrah's" to their poker operations.

This could, for instance, translate into a World Series of Poker tournament managed by Harrah's but run out of a Loto-Québec casino.

Harrah's, like many casino companies, is looking for that competitive edge.

The company last month reported a loss of $127.4 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to a $275 million loss in the same quarter of 2008.  Its competitors have fared much worse, however.

Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com






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