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Poker News | World Poker News

Harrah’s Interactive Moves Quickly to Montreal

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The newly formed Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, Inc. (HIE) has wasted no time in establishing itself and its home base just as the 2009 World Series of Poker gets underway. But since internet gaming is not necessarily welcome in Las Vegas at this time, the HIE executives have set up shop in Montreal, Canada.

Less than two weeks after Harrah’s Entertainment confirmed that ex-PartyGaming chief executive Mitch Garber was hired to act as CEO of the new HIE division, an interview was given to the Montreal Gazette in order to spread the word that the company was in the process of establishing its headquarters in Montreal. It was upon Garber’s resolve that the company be centered there for several reasons. Montreal is his home town, and he looks forward to returning his family to the city, but the primary motivation seems to be that the government there welcomes the gaming industry and the business it brings.

“I’m really happy to bring Harrah’s to Montreal,” Garber stated in the interview. “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.”

The plans are already underway. With an office in place, Garber has hired about ten people to work within its walls in areas of concentration like business development, but the intention is to expand to “hundreds” of employees, “mostly customer-service employees and a scattering of Web designers,” reported the Gazette. Reportedly, Canada is not only a central location, close to the United States where the World Series of Poker happens each year, but is a country that might be open to discussing its state-run casinos as a future partner with and home of WSOP events.

According to Garber, there are two relatively immediate goals. One is to work toward online gaming in the United Kingdom, as a license has already been issued in Alderney, and expand the offering to other countries in Europe that allow it under the law or are working toward its legalization. The second goal 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” into their gambling establishments. The latter goal pertains to the aforementioned Canadian casinos run by Loto-Quebec, operators of three (and soon to be four) casinos that already offer poker on real and electronic tables. The Montreal Gazette reported that the Loto-Quebec had not been in contact with Garber yet but would be interested in speaking with him.

The move to establish an office in Montreal, staff it, and begin such an expedient pursuit of the HIE business goals signifies the importance of each and every move as well as its attempt to accomplish a great deal in a short period of time. With Harrah’s concentrating a great amount of energy on lobbying the United States Congress to urge the passage of Rep. Barney Frank’s recently introduced bill, as well as focusing necessary attention on the upcoming weeks and months of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and London, it could be the wisest course of action to allow Garber to move the interactive division forward without delay.

Whether results of HIE’s efforts will soon be seen in the U.K., Canada, or even the United States remains to be seen, but it is evident that there will be much more news coming from Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, Inc. in the weeks ahead.

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