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Online Poker News Archives - December 18, 2005

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Copyright 2005 The Financial Times Ltd.

December 18, 2005

US watchdog probes $700m poker bid

Author: Yee in New York

US regulators are investigating a $700m bid for World Poker Tour Enterprises launched by Doyle Brunson, one of the game's best-known players.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday said it is formally investigating whether Mr Brunson's unsolicited offer and its publication violated anti-fraud laws.

Shares in WPTE, parent of the World Poker Tour television series, rose more than 50 per cent when the offer from Mr Brunson and unnamed investors was disclosed in July.

But the shares fell when the bid expired just a few days later. WPTE could not substantiate the offer, saying Mr Brunson and Goodman & Chesnoff, the Las Vegas law firm representing him, had ended communication.

The SEC is trying to enforce subpoenas issued to Goodman & Chesnoff attorneys David Chesnoff and Chaka Henry to hand over documents and testimony, according to documents filed this week in federal court in Texas. The $700m offer represented a 100 per cent premium over WPTE's then market value.

"Publication of this offer, widely covered in the media, triggered a steep rise in WPT's stock price on record trading volume," the SEC said.

Mr Brunson has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to testify in the investigation.

He invoked the attorney-client privilege and asked the Goodman & Chesnoff attorneys to withhold documents related to the offer.

But the SEC's latest court action seeks to set aside the attorney-client privilege on legal grounds. A WPTE spokesperson said the company would co-operate fully with the investigation.

Mr Brunson won the World Series of Poker in 1976 and 1977 and is author of Super/System, considered a bible for poker players.

The World Poker Tour is credited with fuelling the recent poker craze since the series was launched on US cable network The Travel Channel.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

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