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Poker News | World Poker News

Harrah’s Entertainment Confirms Interactive Division Formation

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It was in mid-April that reports emerged about former PartyGaming chief executive Mitch Garber was hired by Harrah’s Entertainment. While Harrah’s would not confirm or categorically deny the leaked information, it led to industry-wide speculation that the addition to the Harrah’s team was done in order to put a leader in place for a subsidiary of the company in the interactive arena. As of May 29, all rumors were confirmed when a press release was distributed announcing that Garber will take a CEO position in the newly formed Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment Division.

The announcement was officially put forth to publicize the new subsidiary division called Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, Inc. (HIE). The purpose of the creation of such a company, the release stated, was to “manage the global growth of the World Series of Poker” and explore interactive possibilities in the European market. Not only will the company be looking to continue to grow the WSOP brand, but it looks to expand the Harrah’s name and associated companies globally, with Europe being the first target market.

The endeavor will be headed up by Mitch Garber as its Chief Executive Officer, while Jeffrey Pollack steps into the role of the company’s President, in addition to his ongoing role as the WSOP Commissioner. Both powerful individuals in the gaming industry, Pollack has taken the WSOP to new heights in recent years, while Garber brings his skills as an attorney and integral part of PartyGaming during its time away from the U.S. market.

Harrah’s Entertainment Chairman, President, and CEO Garry Loveman stated, “As the world’s largest gaming company, Harrah’s is taking a proactive approach toward international and interactive expansion. It is important we position ourselves to explore new markets as well as new technologies with our best in class brands.”

Exploration of new markets is a conveniently timed goal considering several factors. First, Rep. Barney Frank recently introduced his bill called the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009. As it begins to work its way through Congressional committees, Harrah’s Entertainment just happens to be one of the companies having hired a lobbyist to help push the bill closer to passage. Should the bill be passed in 2009 or 2010 and legalize online poker in the United States, the largest market in the world for the industry, Harrah’s will be given credit for its doing and be high on the list for one of the first licenses to be considered for issue.

Second, the World Series of Poker is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a great deal of worldwide publicity. By introducing its interactive company at a time that all eyes in the gaming industry are on Harrah’s Entertainment because of the WSOP in Las Vegas, as well as the subsequent September World Series of Poker Europe in London, the company is maximizing its time in the spotlight and using it to gauge the type of worldwide market available to it. By watching the countries involved in the WSOP, the winners of bracelets from those countries, and the eventual ESPN viewership, HIE can better coordinate its marketing plan going forward.

Gerber and Pollack will likely be discussing these issues and more during the summer of 2009, as the Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment attempts to become a force in a once-again emerging market and one in which the World Series of Poker brand can be promoted to the fullest extent of its possibilities.

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