WMS to build WSOP games for Harrah’s

May 2, 2005 3:23 AM

The famous World Series of Poker brand will soon be integrated into video poker and slot machines manufactured by WMS Gaming.

Harrah’s, which owns the rights to the World Series of Poker (which it purchased from Binion’s last year), announced a licensing agreement last week.

According to the agreement, WMS will develop several unique game themes using the World Series of Poker brand, the first of which is expected to be placed in Harrah’s casinos following regulatory approvals, which are anticipated in the third quarter.

According to Harrah’s, World Series of Poker branded games will initially be available solely at Harrah’s properties during an exclusivity period in each jurisdiction in which Harrah’s or its affiliates operate.

Once the exclusivity timeframe expires, each game theme will be available for placement at other casinos. The agreement, which calls for the installation of a specified number of World Series of Poker branded gaming devices in Harrah’s casinos, is for a period of three years with an optional two-year extension.

Since 1970, the World Series of Poker has been recognized as the world’s largest, richest and most prestigious gaming tournament, with event winners being crowned the World Champion of Poker.

The six-week World Series of Poker series of tournaments offers poker fans competition in a variety of poker games including Lowball, Seven-Card Stud and Omaha. In 2004, more than 2,500 amateur and professional players entered the event’s most popular tournament — the $10,000 buy-in, No Limit Hold’em World Championship. The winner, Greg Raymer, received $5 million.

The 36th Annual World Series of Poker at Harrah’s Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, June 2 through July 15, is expected to draw an even larger field of entrants than the 2004 event.

"With the growing popularity and resurgence of tournaments and live poker games, this new agreement provides a logical extension of our valued brand to the casino floor," said Ken Weil, Harrah’s senior vice president of slots. "We selected WMS due to its strong reputation for creating great games, and the company has already presented us with several exciting game concepts that we are confident will accurately represent and extend the World Series of Poker brand.

"We have previously worked with WMS on several joint marketing opportunities and look forward to furthering our relationship with this new agreement," Weil said.

"Harrah’s has done a remarkable job of managing the already significant awareness of this popular brand, which is instantly recognized around the world by both poker players and non-players alike," said Brian Gamache, president and CEO of WMS Industries. "Our game developers are very excited to be working with this phenomenal brand and we are confident that their unique talents will lead to the creation of highly entertaining games that capture the excitement of the World Series of Poker. We believe the combination of this famous brand, our great content, and our award-winning Bluebird gaming platform will help accelerate our market share on the slot floor and also result in an exciting experience for players and higher earnings for our casino customers."

Harrah’s officials added that the casino giant is committed to introduce the excitement and entertainment value of the World Series of Poker brand to guests — poker players and non-players alike - throughout their properties.