World Series Of Poker Still At Rio, But Gone From ESPN

Posted By Marc Meltzer on April 20, 2021

Television coverage of the World Series Of Poker (WSOP) is on the move from ESPN to CBS. Monday morning WSOP announced a new multi-year rights agreement with CBS Sports as its new television partner for various events. Terms on the multi-year agreement were not disclosed.

“CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from their growing media platforms.”

The move from ESPN to CBS Sports is bigger than just the TV inside of most living rooms. The deal is actually between CBS and PokerGo. WSOP coverage will be available on more media platforms including cable TV, CBS streaming services, and PokerGo online.

While the move from ESPN is surprising on the surface, it’s an extension of an existing online deal. Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS Sports says:

“Following our past success with Poker Central (owners of PokerGo), we are excited to expand our relationship with the highest-profile and richest event in competitive tournament Poker featuring the best players in the world. This deal fits perfectly in our strategy to combine best-in-class events with our CBS Sports brand.”

CBS Sports Network will feature 15 hours of WSOP Main Event coverage this year. There will be coverage of an additional 36 hours from 18 gold bracelet events on the cable network. The WSOP coverage will also be available on other ViacomCBS platforms, including Paramount +.

The WSOP will sit alongside UNLV and Mountain West Conference sports and the Professional Bull Rider (PBR) tour on CBS Sports Network. More specific TV information will be released after WSOP confirms its tentative plans for the event in Las Vegas later this year.

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WSOP turns to an old TV friend

This isn’t the first time WSOP and CBS have been partners. CBS Sports was the first TV network to broadcast the tournament in the U.S. The WSOP Main Event used to appear on the CBS Sports Spectacular show throughout the mid-1970s.

The television coverage is a return to an old friend. The rumor mill continues to swirl that the in-person event might also return to an old friend. There are multiple dots to connect here so be patient.

Could WSOP return to another old friend?

WSOP is planning to return to Rio All-Suites Casino and Hotel later this year. However, WSOP owner, Caesars, sold the casino in 2019. The company still has a lease to operate the casino. Caesars has not announced if it will choose to extend the deal.

The new owners of Rio have released preliminary plans to renovate the property. Details on the future of the casino operations remain unclear. Simultaneously, there’s a rumor that Caesars could rebrand Bally’s Las Vegas as Horseshoe Las Vegas.

It’s possible that Caesars could move the WSOP to promote the new Horseshoe Las Vegas. next year. This would be a similar return of sorts to an old partner. The WSOP used to take place at Binion’s Horseshoe casino in downtown Las Vegas prior to being purchased by Caesars and moved to the Rio.

This rebranding of Bally’s Las Vegas becomes more likely now that Bally’s Corp. has purchased the Tropicana. Twin River Holdings, now Bally’s Corp., purchased its name from Caesars last year. The deal allows Caesars to keep the Bally’s Las Vegas name. However, Caesars could choose to sell the hotel-casino name to Bally’s Corp. if it wants to rename the iconic casino-hotel on the Vegas Strip. That deal won’t close until 2022 so there’s plenty of time for all companies involved to make decisions.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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