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What the indictment of Full Tilt Poker & others means for UFC

By Zach Arnold | April 15, 2011

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I cannot describe how important this story is about the Manhattan prosecutor going after the major poker web sites Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker. How big of a story is it? Bigger than one can imagine.

When discussing this story, you simply can’t avoid the politics of it. The political climate was growing in the US Congress to work out legislation for online gambling in the States. Harry Reid, who Zuffa management helped out politically in his 2010 re-election campaign, was receptive to the idea of legalization. Several other key players, like Barney Frank, were also keen on the idea. After all, legalize-and-tax made perfect sense. The political climate became so positive that the Las Vegas casino power players like Steve Wynn and the Fertittas got involved in deals with companies like Full Tilt Poker.

And now? After today’s indictment in New York, Steve Wynn can’t bail fast enough. What will the Fertittas do in response?

Full Tilt Poker is a Strikeforce sponsor. They are a sponsor of several high-profile MMA fighters. They also happened to become friendly with the UFC. (Remember when UltimateBet.net was thought to have an inside track and that collapsed?)

The situation will get messy and fast. Will Full Tilt pull sponsorship from events and from fighters? If so, that will mean a serious amount of sponsorship cash will be out of the window. It will be a lot easier for the promotion to replace the sponsor than it will be for the fighters, but the instability hurts all the way around.

By the way, the Manhattan prosecutor involved in this case is the same prosecutor that Dana White has publicly thanked in being aggressive in anti-piracy efforts relating to footage that Zuffa owns copyrights to.

As for the reaction to the indictment in Manhattan, it has been loud and boisterous.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “What the indictment of Full Tilt Poker & others means for UFC”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Is Bellator still sponsored by FullTilt?

  2. EJ says:

    Like you said it will probably have much bigger impact on the fighters they sponsored than Zuffa itself. But it definately is something that is worth monotoring for the future and seeing how it all plays out. Right now it’s just way too early to really know what long lasting impact this will have on anyone.

  3. Bryan says:

    I think the are sponsored by UB.net. Individual fighters may still be sponsored by Full Tilt, though. Regardless, this is terrible news and just makes life for fighters even harder.

  4. Light23 says:

    I can’t understand why anybody would make online poker illegal. That’s crazy. Thankfully I live in the UK.

    The silver lining in this situation is that UB.net is a horrible site which was implicated in cheating its customers.

  5. chris says:

    Since Full Tilt took over butt placement on many fighters trunks from condom depot, I wonder who are really the biggest sponsors in the game at the moment, how many guys, big and small rely on FTP as a majority of their revenue?
    Don’t get me wrong, anytime a door closes, large or small, it sucks for everyone. Also sucks for the UFC because aside from Bud Light& Harley, FTP seems like their next largest sponsor, so in a sense could the UFC be losing a blue chip sponsor? A term pushed heavily 3 years ago, but have we really seen many mainstream sponsors come in?

    Who knows, maybe Showtime will sponsor the UFC from ring placement ad spots now. Crazier shits happened this year alone.

    • Tooth and Nail says:

      They have a few others…Burger King being a very big one.

      Actually I think I noticed a Dodge logo on the TUF octagon mat also…which would be huge.

  6. Dave says:

    This is ridiculously bad for fighters.

    I can say first hand that Full Tilt Poker was paying fighters better than just about any clothing company anywhere.

  7. rich says:

    Well again here we go with campaigin dollars and sports
    it would be amazing if the UFC tickects could be at half price in Las vegas for one fight.So the state that help build the sport can get a break from paying the Polticans so more people can enjoy the fight live. But you have to pay back door deals with Mr Reid i guess we can c where the MMA sport is going! when you sleep with a dog’ Reid’ you get fleas. and the MMA dont need that! Keep it a sport not Politics
    I’m Out!

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