After last weeks breakup of three major online poker sites ESPN (and their parent company, Disney) has announced that they are removing all poker from the network for the time being.
Walt Disney’s ESPN sports cable channel will remove poker advertising and programming after the U.S. indicted gambling websites that sponsor televised tournaments and froze their bank accounts.
“We are aware of the indictment only through what has been announced publicly,” Bristol, Connecticut-based ESPN said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “For the immediate future, we are making efforts to remove related advertising and programming pending further review.”
This is a very safe play for ESPN. They were going to lose most of the advertising for their poker programming anyway since Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and Poker Stars made up the bulk of advertising on the shows.
ESPN didn’t state that they’ve canceled all contracts and are out of the business forever. They are just putting things on hold for TV. The poker page on ESPN.com is still up and running. I expect ESPN to seek out other World Series of Poker advertisers and will hold off on committing to airing the tournament until they know how they stand financially.
This is all, still, just the beginning of what’s probably going to be legal online gambling in America…it’s just a matter of when.
UPDATE: ESPN will be airing the 2011 WSOP, but they have removed old programming. Thanks for the heads up BluffMagazine.com
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