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In its bid to expand further, the World Poker Tour (WPT) is aiming to tap the Japanese market. The WPT last week announced that it has forged a partnership with a group called the Japan Poker Union Corporation and will be making its first-ever appearance in the country with a special event later this year from November 23-26.
There will probably be four events at the tournament stop in Tokyo. A venue wasn’t disclosed, though the WPT said qualifiers would take place at local poker clubs.
World Poker Tour continues to spread its reach in as many countries as possible. As was rightly pointed out by Global Tour Management Vice-President Angelica Hael that the company had increased from a presence in seven countries just a few years ago to a planned 18 in 2017.
Japan that has recently legalized Las Vegas-style casinos is looked upon as an ideal place to welcome one of the world’s top poker brands.
The mood is definitely upbeat in Japan. “The World Poker Tour is honoured to partner with the Japan Poker Union Corporation for this momentous occasion, not only the history of the World Poker Tour, but for our industry,” said WPT CEO Adam Pliska.
“Japan is a truly spectacular place, and the Japanese poker market is a flourishing one that deserves to be showcased on a global stage such as the World Poker Tour,”he added.
Pliska hoped that players from the region would gain experience, as they will know the game first-hand now.
The event to be held in Japan is termed ‘special’ for a reason. That’s because the tournament will not be paying out any cash prizes to the winners. Doing so would breach the current legal situation in the country and hence the organizers have decided to swap cash for future WPT tournament packages. Every player who makes it “into the money” will receive a prize package.
The event has also put together a package of prize for the WPT Asia-Pacific Player of the Year leaderboard. It will award a $15,000 package to be used at future WPT stops in the region. Second and third-place finishers will pocket smaller prizes worth $3,500 and about $1,700, respectively.
The tour had a stop in Beijing that was completed in April and it also has a WPT India series scheduled for early November.
Whenever the casinos are built in Japan, the regulated casino gambling market in the country is expected to be worth $40 billion per year, according to industry estimates. That would be about half the US market. Companies like Las Vegas Sands and MGM have already expressed interest in building casinos in the country.