Players file for summary judgment against WPT

Seven professional poker players filed a motion for summary judgment against World Poker Tour Enterprises, Inc. yesterday. The motion presents "undisputed facts" that establish the company has committed multiple violations of federal antitrust laws.

The motion is a part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by Joseph Hachem, Howard Lederer and Greg Raymer against the WPTE, which owns the World Poker Tour (WPT).

The players are claiming that the WPTE colluded with member casinos to prevent players from entering tournaments unless they forfeit their rights, which amounts to price fixing and group boycotts.

According to the lawsuit, players have to waive rights to use their images and names to promote WPT products and video games before they're allowed to play in a WPT poker tournament.

By filing this latest motion, the players are asking the court to make a summary declaration that the WPTE and the casinos have unlawfully conspired to force players to sign releases, in direct violation of antitrust laws.

They have provided undisputed evidence of the releases and evidence that the WPTE and casinos are restricting the number of poker tournaments in competition with the WPT by agreeing that casinos can't sponsor any other televised non-WPT events.

These agreements, according to the plaintiffs, constitute a "per se" or "quick look" violation of federal antitrust laws.

A "quick look" test applies to conduct which is so inherently anticompetitive that the court may summarily decide it violates U.S. antitrust laws.

If the court grants the summary motion, it would bring a quick end to the lawsuit without the need for further discovery or a trial, said Jeffrey Kessler, lead counsel for the poker players.

"All poker players would then be able to compete in WPT tournaments without being forced to give up their valuable intellectual property rights for no compensation, and the casinos would be free to sponsor competing televised poker tournaments of their own," he said.

If the motion is granted, the WPTE will be permanently forbidden from:

  • Agreeing with the casinos to require the plaintiffs and other poker players to sign releases granting WPTE the right to use those players' intellectual property rights to promote WPTE products and services
  • Using the grant of plaintiffs' intellectual property rights obtained from past releases
  • Prohibiting casinos from sponsoring non-WPT poker tournaments

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