Tuesday, May 04, 2010

PartyGaming to Provide Online Poker to French Media Giant


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PartyGaming, operator of PartyPoker, announced Monday that it had entered into a partnership with one of France’s largest television broadcasters. The deal will have PartyGaming provide a white label online poker room for AB Groupe, a company with 15 subscription channels and 52 million paid subscribers across France and other French speaking countries.

The new poker room will be called LuckyJeux (meaning Lucky Games) and will join PartyPoker.fr on PartyGaming’s French poker network. Also on the network is another white label PartyGaming product, the online poker room of Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), which is France’s state-run horse racing monopoly. PartyGaming and PMU forged that deal near the end of March.

PMU will not be a monopoly for long, however, as earlier this month, French lawmakers approved a bill to legalize online gambling, eliminating the government monopoly. The timing of the agreement with AB Groupe was no coincidence. In a press release issued by PartyGaming, the online gambling giant’s CEO Jim Ryan said, “AB Groupe is a first rate addition to our French poker network and is consistent with our stated strategy of combining B2C and B2B offerings in newly regulated markets. Together with our recently announced alliance with PMU, we are in great shape ahead of the market opening and are excited about our prospects.”

AB Groupe owns the French television station RTL9, which made poker headlines at the beginning of April as a key player in a lawsuit filed by Ultra Internet Media (UIM), the parent company of Everest Poker, against Harrah’s, owners of the World Series of Poker (WSOP). In 2008, UIM signed a three-year agreement with Harrah’s to make Everest Poker the on-felt sponsor of the WSOP, a deal which would have UIM pay a total of $22.5 million. According to UIM, RTL9 substituted the Everest Poker logo with that of rival Full Tilt Poker in its broadcasts of the WSOP. Officials from Everest Poker, ESPN, and Harrah’s met in February 2009 to discuss the issue, but while promises were made to have Full Tilt’s logo removed, it remained in the broadcasts. UIM has sued Harrah’s for breach of contract and is withholding its 2010 payment.

In addition to the WSOP, RTL9 airs episodes of “Poker after Dark” and the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. The station’s website also advertises promotions with Full Tilt. On AB Groupe’s own website, the company offers a contest in which visitors can send a text message or call a pay-per-play phone number to enter a sweepstakes for a seat in the 2010 WSOP Main Event.

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