London Clubs International
London Clubs International (LCI) is a British gambling company that was bought by Harrah's Entertainment in 2006. At the time of purchase, LCI operated casinos in London, Southend and Brighton as well as in Egypt and South Africa. It also had licenses to build five additional casinos.
Before being bought by Harrah's, LCI was in negotiations with Stanley Leisure (England's largest casino operator) about a possible merger, but the latter were outbid by Harrah's. Genting, a Malaysian gaming giant, was also interested in LCI. "London Clubs is an important strategic asset for foreign gaming companies wanting to establish a footprint in the UK ahead of deregulation," said Matthew Gerard of Investec Securities. Interest in British casinos had increased in 2006 due to legislation that allowed for larger "Vegas style" casinos.
LCI is best known for being the host of the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE). The World Series of Poker is the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, and the WSOPE was the first time it held an event outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2007, Thomas Bihl became the first person to ever win a WSOP bracelet outside of Vegas. Bihl won the £2,500 World Championship H.O.R.S.E. at the World Series of Poker Europe at LCI. Days later, Annette Obrestad became the youngest player to ever win a WSOP bracelet at 18 years, 364 days, also becoming the first woman to win a World Series Main Event (Unlike Nevada, English gambling laws do not prohibit 18 year olds from participating). Harrah's Casinos, the owner of the WSOP, considers the WSOP Europe bracelet to be the same in prestige as those awarded every year in Las Vegas.
While no definitive plans have been announced, Pollack[clarification needed] indicated in February 2007 that other venues may start holding WSOP events. Egypt and South Africa were mentioned as possible expansion sites because Harrah's owns casinos, via LCI, in those two locations.
LCI had developed severe financial problems back in 2001, after its failed venture in the Aladdin Casino. A combination of cost overruns, declining tourism, and poor design led to the casino filing bankruptcy in September 2001 and eliminating LCI's equity in the casino.
- "Casino giant to buy London Clubs". BBC News.com (BBC News). 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Warner, Eric. Stay classy, London: Jeffrey Pollack on the World Series of Poker Europe February 27, 2007. Pokerlisting.com Accessed 7/25/07
- Pokernews.com: £10,000 NLHE, Final Table: Annette Obrestad Makes History
- Bambach, Mike.World Series of Poker ups the ante, expands event to Europe 6-28-07. USA Today. Accessed 7/25/07
- Reece, Damian (2001-09-30). "Aladdin failure puts LCI on edge". The Daily Telegraph (London).