THE WORLD SERIES OF POKER EUROPE
The WSOPE is the European branch of the WSOP. Harrah’s bought Binion’s Horseshoe in 2004, kept the rights to the brand and began organizing the WSOP in the spirit of the Binions. It was under Harrah’s ownership that the WSOP reached its peak of popularity. In 2007, the WSOP was forbidden to accept money from online gambling companies, which meant they couldn’t accept online qualifiers either. That led to a decrease in player numbers, and it also prompted Harrah’s to look for alternatives in case the UIGEA keeps making life hard for poker enthusiasts in the U.S.
Harrah’s had purchased London Club International (a gambling company with operations in London), and decided to put it to use in 2007, exporting the WSOP brand across the pond.
The first ever WSOPE was organized in 2007, with Annette Obrestad winning the ₤1,000,000 first prize in the ₤10,000 NL Holdem event, and Thomas Bihl and Dario Alioto winning the ₤2.5k and ₤5k events respectively.
Even though the European tournament scene is pretty crowded as it is, Harrah’s hopes that the prestige of the WSOP brand will make it much easier for them to cut a market share there.
Fully aware of the differences that exist between European and U.S. casinos and casino atmosphere, the organizers will make sure that everything about the WSOPE is as European-specific as possible. British law permits online gambling and poker, so Harrah’s can rest assured that it won’t run into any UIGEA-like nasty surprises there.
Having learnt that keeping all its eggs in one basket is not exactly the safest way to do business in the volatile poker industry, Harrah’s plans to hold WSOP events in Egypt and in South Africa too in the future, turning the brand into a global one.