WPT Enterprises, which operates the World Poker Tour (WPT), announced last week it has expanded its popular tournament series to Canada and the Philippines.
The expansion includes licensing agreements with ABS-CBN Broadcasting for television rights and other media coverage.
"We are very pleased to be able to bring the WPT to the fans in other countries who have been itching to try their hand at making a WPT final table," said Steve Lipscomb, CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises. "Through these regional WPT tours with ABS-CBN and Aidan Tracey, we have begun to create a global network of WPT tours that will inspire the players in those countries and grow our brand internationally."
In addition to bringing high-stakes tournament action to Canada and the Philippines, the WPT plans to generate interest in card rooms and casinos in their respective countries beginning in early 2006.
"It will be fun to see local players evolve into regional poker stars, just as our primary WPT Tour players over the past few years have garnered international recognition, and are now recognizable everywhere they go," Lipscomb said.
The events will feature WPT-style Texas Hold’em tournaments expected to draw hundreds of players for increasingly growing prize pools at each stop.
The WPT has been airing on television networks in Canada and the Philippines for the past two years, drawing a large following and impacting the popularity of poker in those countries.
Lipscomb anticipates additional regional WPT Tours to be licensed in the future, as the skyrocketing popularity of the show continues to create worldwide fans.
The World Poker Tour television show show, which has achieved worldwide viewership on the Travel Channel, is currently licensed for broadcast in 116 countries and territories around the world.
ABS-CBN Broadcasting is involved in television and radio broadcasting, as well as the production of television programming for Filipino domestic and international audiences. The two networks reach an estimated 97% and 50% of all television-owning households in the Philippines, respectively.
"We wish to introduce poker among the Filipinos served by ABS-CBN, locally and globally, and to the skills, art and excitement that it generates both as a program and as a game," said Peter A. Musngi, vice president for ABS-CBN Sports. "As a television show, we are hopeful that we can duplicate the success of WPT USA in the Philippines and the region given the reach and equity of ABS-CBN. We are confident that this is not a far-fetched reality."
Under the licensing agreement, ABS-CBN will create four episodes in the first year, five in the second and six in the third — and to air them exclusively for four years total.
In Canada, Aidan Tracey will develop, stage and market a regional tour. Tracey is currently President of Mosaic Sales Solutions Field Marketing, the leading experiential event marketing company in Canada.
"Aidan’s deep knowledge in helping to build global brands, along with his own experience as a founder and executive producer of a successful international TV event special, made him a natural choice," Lipscomb said.