A small piece in the London Times has the poker world buzzing about the future of online gambling as well as the Harrah’s Corporation. The brief article, published in Sunday’s business section, states that Harrah’s has hired former PartyGaming CEO Mitch Garber to an unnamed position within the company.
Garber’s official title has not been revealed, but the article claims he will be working, “as the head of a new company formed to house [Harrah’s] internet operations and the popular World Series of Poker.” Though it does not explicitly state that the Harrah’s brand is expanding into online casinos and poker rooms, the move is seen by many within the gambling industry as the first step towards doing just that.
The issue of legalized and regulated online gambling within the United States has been a topic on many poker players’ minds in the past few weeks following several big announcements that seemingly indicate an increasing likelihood that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) will be overturned in the coming months.
First came the announcement by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) that he will be introducing a bill to overturn the UIGEA during this current session of Congress. Several other favorable state court decisions in states like South Carolina, Kentucky and Pennsylvania also pave the way for the regulation of internet gaming, poker in particular. Most recently, PartyGaming announced it reached a settlement with the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) in which they agreed to block U.S. users from accessing their online gambling sites and volunteered to pay the government a $105 million fine. Many see this gesture by PartyGaming as a means to get back in the good graces of government officials should internet gaming become regulated in the near future.
Garber will likely work on developing online poker rooms branded with the World Series of Poker moniker, one of the most recognizable names in the game. Prior to accepting this most recent position with Harrah’s, Garber served as the CEO of PartyGaming from April of 2006 until May of 2008. In March of 2008 the Canadian announced he would be stepping down in order to spend more time in North America with his family.
During his time at PartyGaming Garber led the company through a rough fallout following the passage of the UIGEA in October of 2006. The company saw its profits tumble after pulling out of the US marketplace. Garber helped PartyGaming turn things around and earn a profit in 2007, but slow revenue growth led to the mutual decision between Garber and the board of directors to step down in early 2008. He was succeeded by the company’s current CEO, Jim Ryan.

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