Tuesday, August 07, 2007
WPT Enterprises announced that they will pay the China Leisure Sports Administrative Center over $500,000 a year for broadcast, branding, sponsorship, and merchandising rights to the tournament tour of a Chinese card game called Traktor Poker or Tua La Ji. The game is apparently closer to bridge than poker (see the rules). The China Leisure Sports Administrative Center will secure placement of the championship finals on a major Chinese television station. Contrast this deal with their current business, where casinos pay WPT Enterprises to televise their tournaments. Gambling is illegal in China, thought the state does run a lottery. The Chinese don't play poker or watch it on TV, though WPT Enterprises recently licensed some Asian channels to air the WPT. There's an effort on the part of some poker businesses to get the Chinese government to reclassify poker from a gambling activity to a sport, as chess, bridge, etc. are currently classified. The most important sentence of WPT Enterprises's SEC filing may well be the last one: "The Company is afforded a first right of negotiation and right to match in regard to other poker-related competitions in China...." If poker ever becomes legal in China, it looks like WPT Enterprises is well positioned to take advantage of it.