Year in Review: Return to the norm in August

John Phan
The Razor continued his strong run in 2008 with a WPT Legends of Poker win.

This is the eighth in a 12-part series taking a month-by-month look at what happened with poker in 2008. The series will publish every other day until the end of the year, covering the major happenings from all corners of the poker industry.

After the yearly Alex Brenes and 2008 WSOP bracelet winner Alexandre Gomes. Espinar delivered several suck-outs, including A-J vs. AA against Argentina's Juan Jose Perez, on the way to the $241,735 first prize.

Industry

PartyPoker turns seven

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Online poker is still a relatively young industry, so it's worth noting that PartyPoker celebrated its seventh anniversary in August. Once the world's largest poker room, PartyPoker has changed direction and lost ground to PokerStars since abandoning the U.S. market in the wake of the UIGEA.

It still remains one of the most successful poker rooms on the Internet, a fact confirmed when it announced a $22.7 million profit for the first half of 2008. That marked a $75 million upward swing from the same half-year in 2007.

PKR celebrates second anniversary

Industry newcomer PKR might not have been around the block as many times as PartyPoker, but it has enjoyed considerable success during its first two years in operation.

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The 3-D poker room passed the two-million-user mark just after its second anniversary, surpassing more established sites like Ladbrokes, Cryptologic and Betfair along the way to becoming the second-fastest-growing online poker room.

WPT bleeds cash - again; faces NASDAQ delisting

World Poker Tour Enterprises announced in August that it had once again lost money during the second quarter of 2008. Steve Lipscomb's brainchild lost a total of $3.9 million in Q2, down from a loss of $3.3 million in the same quarter of 2007.

The continued poor performance of WPTE led to its stock price dipping below the $1 per share threshold required to maintain listing on the NASDAQ index, which triggered a letter from NASDAQ giving the company 180 days to regain compliance or face delisting.

Harrah's profits down

The WPT's parent company wasn't the only poker-related venture to weather economic troubles in August. Harrah's announced that its second-quarter revenues for 2008 were down 3.7% from the year before and that 2007 profits had turned into 2008 losses.

"The first half of the year presented us with the most turbulent economic conditions the casino-entertainment industry has faced in years," said Gary Loveman, the chairman, president and CEO of Harrah's.

"Customer visitation fell in the second quarter as consumers coped with higher fuel costs, declining asset values, the impact of widespread flooding in the Midwest and other financial challenges."

Legal Issues

U.S., EU online gambling talks delayed

EU Flag
EU talks delayed by U.S.

A year of U.S. trade troubles stemming from the UIGEA continued in August when the U.S. Trade Representative delayed scheduled talks with the European Union over online gambling.

At the time, U.S. officials gave neither a reason for the delay nor a date for resumption of talks with EU officials investigating whether UIGEA was discriminatory against offshore gambling operators.

U.K. gambling commission report

While the American government dealt with the ramifications of its antigambling policies, the U.K. government took a look at its own acceptance of online gambling.

The results of the U.K. Gambling Commission's study showed that the flood of online gambling addiction feared by social conservatives had yet to manifest itself; 8.8% of respondents reported participating in at least one form of remote gambling in the previous month, a figure unchanged from the commission's 2007 study.

Poker players respond to GOP antigambling platform

With the pivotal U.S. presidential election approaching, the Republican Party decided to include language attacking online gambling in its 2008 party platform. Poker players were outraged by such an attack and responded with their opinions on the GOP's official platform Web site.

Greg Raymer
The Fossilman takes his poker and his politics quite seriously.

"My point is simple. Is the Republican Party no longer the party of personal freedom and individual responsibility? Why has this party, that used to protect my rights, now become the party that wants to create a Nanny-state? Stay away from issues of personal liberty, except to remove old laws that restrict these liberties," wrote former WSOP Main Event champ Greg Raymer.

Other posters decried the legality of online gambling on lotteries and horse racing while poker was not protected and asked the GOP to push for regulation of the multibillion-dollar industry. Some posters even warned the Republicans that they felt strongly enough about protecting online poker to consider becoming single-issue voters.

After the outcry, GOP platform crafters removed the offending language from the document, but it was reinserted after pressure was exerted by social conservatives.

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