In July 2006, seven poker stars – Howard Lederer, Phil Gordon, Annie Duke, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Andy Bloch, and Phil Gordon – sued World Poker Tour Enterprises, Inc (WPTE) for violating state and federal antitrust laws.Today, the group, represented by Dewey Ballantine LLP, along with WPTE, announced that the lawsuit has been settled.
When the lawsuit was originally filed in federal district court, the players said they were not after money and would be happy if the disagreement could be settled out of court.And so it happened.The WPTE did not have to fork over any money, aside from its own legal bills, and the suit never went to court.
The players had three major issues with the WPTE.First, they felt that the release that all players were made to sign prior to playing in a World Poker Tour event was unfair, in that it gave WPTE the right to use player images however it wanted, without compensating the player at all.Second, the players thought it was unfair that the WPTE forbade the casinos that hosted its events from hosting any other televised poker tournaments.Third, they felt that WPTE and the casinos engaged in price fixing, by jointly setting all entry fees and tournament structures, rather than allowing casinos to determine their own terms individually.
The required release was the nastiest thorn in the players’ sides.It was very frustrating to them that they had to put up their own money to compete and then were unable to receive any sort of direct monetary benefit from the use of their own likenesses in WPT events.Compare this to a professional sports players’ association (NBA, MLB, or NFL), where the players are paid to play and they have a players’ association which receives money from licensing, money which gets redistributed to the players.
Both sides have expressed their happiness about putting this mess behind them.The players, in particular, are happy that their voices were heard and that all players should be getting a fairer deal now that the release will be reworked.