Players check: Suit off with WPT

Apr 29, 2008 7:00 PM

By GT Staff | Last week, WPT Enterprises, Inc. ("WPTE") and five professional poker players – Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson, Andrew Bloch, Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, and Howard Lederer – announced that they settled a lawsuit filed by the poker players in July, 2006. WPTE operates the World Poker Tour, a series of televised poker tournaments that are run by various casinos throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and Europe.

In their lawsuit, the poker players challenged WPT’s standard player’s release and contracts with casinos claiming that they violated federal and state antitrust laws. WPTE denied that its casino contracts, releases or other activities violated antitrust or other laws.

At issue were clauses in which players gave up virtually all rights to the use of their images in the tournament. Most of the players have promotional deals with various organizations and sponsors, such as online poker rooms, and those clauses would in effect be contradictory to the players’ contracts.

In settling their dispute, WPTE and the poker players agreed to implement a new standard form release that will be provided to all players at all WPT tournaments and events going forward.

WPTE continued to deny any liability or wrongdoing, but wanted to settle its differences with the players so that the tour can focus on its continued growth rather than litigation. No monetary compensation was exchanged between the parties as a result of the settlement.

Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO of WPTE, stated that: "We are glad to put this dispute behind us, and we look forward to working with all players to grow the sport of poker."

Poker player Chris Ferguson stated that: "We are happy to have come to an agreement that is fair to all players, and to have put in place a new release that clears up ambiguities in how players’ images may be used. We are especially happy that this new release will apply to all poker players who wish to participate in WPT tournaments and events. WPTE has created some of the best poker events in the world, and we are excited to participate in them once again."