World's Richest Sporting Event Keeps Getting Richer - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Organizers of the World Series of Poker, the richest sporting event on the planet, today predicted the total prize pool at this year's tournament will reach $100 million, more than doubling the record the event set just a year ago.

With a total of 45 events, the 36th annual World Series of Poker is the longest, largest and most prestigious event of its kind. Its unprecedented growth necessitated its move this year from its longtime home in downtown Las Vegas to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino just off the Strip, where the tournament is hosted in a 60,000-square-foot gaming area equipped with 200 poker tables.

"With each new event we host, we're breaking another record," said Gary Thompson, director of operations and communications for the World Series of Poker. "We have brought in 450 of the world's best poker dealers to accommodate the enormous crowds flooding in from around the globe looking for both tournament and live-game action. Those players are contributing to a prize pool that will dwarf such events as the Indy 500, the Kentucky Derby and the Masters."

The record prize pool is being driven by the unprecedented number of players paying entry fees to World Series of Poker events. In 2003, the World Series of Poker generated a total of 7,572 player registrations and a total prize pool of nearly $22 million. In 2004, the total number of player registrations nearly doubled, reaching 14,054 -- and the total prize pool soared to nearly $45 million.

Through only the first 19 events, total registrations at the 36th annual World Series of Poker have exceeded 13,500 and the total prize money has risen beyond the $23.5 million mark. With many of the most popular events still to come, organizers believe total prize money will reach $100 million by the time the tournament's main event begins July 7.

"I've been playing tournament poker for a long time, but I've never seen anything like this," said Robert Williamson III, who has made multiple World Series of Poker final tables in the last five years and has won a gold bracelet in Pot-Limit Omaha. "I've always been bullish on poker -- it's the greatest game I've ever played -- but there's no way I would have guessed we'd hit $100 million this year. No way."

The World Series of Poker is owned and operated by Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:HET -News), which purchased the tournament early last year. All but the final two days of the 36th annual World Series of Poker will be played at Harrah's Rio casino. The tournament's final days will be played at Binion's in downtown Las Vegas, which hosted the World Series of Poker for its first 35 years.

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., is the world's largest provider of branded casino entertainment. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada 67 years ago, Harrah's has grown through development of new properties, expansions, and acquisitions. On June 13, 2005, Harrah's Entertainment acquired Caesars Entertainment, Inc., and now owns or manages through various subsidiaries more than 40 casinos in three countries, primarily under the Harrah's, Caesars and Horseshoe brand names. With nearly 4 million square feet of casino space, more than 40,000 hotel rooms and nearly 100,000 employees, the Harrah's portfolio is the most diverse in the gaming industry. Harrah's Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership.

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