AOL has announced that they have signed an exclusive deal with the World Series of Poker to provide 12 seats at the 2006 and 2007 World Poker Championships. The seats will be won by players, for free, at various table games and tournaments provided by AOL. AOL is the leading internet provider in the United States and the move should mean a lot for the online Poker industry.
Having such a reputable and power organization get involved could only mean a step in the right direction of allowing online poker sites to be based in the United States. Over the past few months congress has struggled with the idea of allowing online poker companies to be based out of the United States and maintain the sanctions which force these companies to be based off shores. Another effect should be that, AOL will be able to reach the majority of online customers in the United States and continue the growth of online poker.
The fact that these prizes and games are offered for free, and are being offered by a reputable familiar brand should be enough to entice the previously cautious surfer. As many people have found out, once that first hand is dealt in a game of Texas Hold?Em, the game can be addictive. According to Harrah's Entertainment programming head, Jeffery Pollack, this unique relationship is a perfect fit. The AOL service will provide news and behind-the-scenes reports of the various tournaments as well as "poker tutorials for people who want to learn more about the game." Ralph Rivera, vice president and general manager of AOL games believes there is another key reason why this venture will pay off. "We've never done anything like this before. People don't have to be a monthly AOL subscriber to gain access to the poker rooms.? So what?s in it for AOL? Well the organization is hoping that the legions of poker fans will come to populate the new sites and bring new economic opportunity with them. While at the sites, players will be forced to look at major amounts of online advertising which has grown to a $12-billion-a-year industry.