In what may be the final deathblow to poker-as-spectator-sport, ESPN has responded to the indictments leveled against online poker sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker by removing all poker-related programming and advertising from its family of networks.
“We are aware of the indictment only through what has been announced publicly,” ESPN said in a statement. “For the immediate future, we are making efforts to remove related advertising and programming pending further review.”
Last week, the founders of some of the country’s largest online poker sites were charged with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. Websites were seized, bank accounts were frozen, and all of a sudden ESPN was faced with a problem: what to do with their poker ad money and 3am World Series of Poker coverage.
The apparent solution: gut it. All of it.
UPDATE: Or not. ESPN has announced it will still air the 2011 World Series of Poker.