PartyPoker Exec Addresses Potential Controversy In Deal With Sixers, Devils
Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment CEO Norbert Teufelberger on Thursday "expertly fired a pre-emptive strike at possible critics" of Bwin brand PartyPoker's partnership with the 76ers, Devils and Prudential Center "by not ducking or trying to put a sweet side on the business he operates," according to John Smallwood of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Teufelberger said, "We are selling gaming products and this is a very controversial topic here in the United States for many, many years. So we know a lot of eyes are on us. We have to do a good job and develop this product very respectfully and according to the local regulatory regime here in New Jersey." He added, "We have a tradition of teaming up ... with leading sports franchises in Europe, but this is the first time in the United States, so there is a lot for us to learn." 76ers, Devils and Prudential Center CEO Scott O'Neil acknowledged that it "took some rules changes from the NBA and NHL to make this deal possible." He said, "This doesn't seem like we're breaking any big taboos. I think for us the most important thing is being with a partner that can engage our fans in a smart way." Smallwood notes most NBA teams "have some marketing link with casinos" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/10). In New Jersey, John Brennan wrote the Devils are "known for being at the forefront of social media among NHL teams -- and that the partypoker officials clearly are aware of, and favorably disposed toward." Meanwhile, Teufelberger "did not sound familiar" with Super Bowl Media Day being held at Prudential Center on Jan. 28, so the timing of the PartyPoker announcement "doesn't appear to be tied in" to that event (NORTHJERSEY.com, 1/9).
TOEING THE LINE? In N.Y., Jeff Klein writes "at least one aspect" of the PartyPoker deal has "drawn scrutiny from the NHL, which otherwise signed off on the agreement." Prudential Center officials said that PartyPoker "will have booths in the arena" as of Saturday's Panthers-Devils game. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail noted league rules "do not allow gaming-themed promotions in-arena," adding the way in which the PartyPoker booths are operated "will be monitored to ensure compliance with league policy." Teufelberger said that the booths "would be purely informational." Klein notes there "will be no booths" at Wells Fargo Center because online gambling is "not legal in Pennsylvania" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).