Tournament Directors Association Criticized For Meeting At Venetian

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TDA Annual Summit Venetian Adelson
The TDA announced that their annual summit would take place at the Venetian, sparking outrage from poker players. (Image: TDA Logo)

Poker tournaments need good tournament directors to run smoothly, and the profession is becoming more and more serious about making sure that players get a good, fair experience at tournaments worldwide every year.

The Tournament Directors Association (TDA) is a big part of that, which has made the annual TDA Summit into an important, if not always headline-making, event on the poker calendar.

So when the TDA announced the time and location of their 2015 meeting, they probably didn’t expect the firestorm that would follow.

The harsh reaction came in response to news of where exactly the next TDA Summit would be held.

In a tweet last week, World Poker Tour Executive Tournament Director Matt Savage announced that the event would take place on June 16 and 17 at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

This isn’t the first time that the Venetian would play host to the event: the casino did so in 2013 as well.

Venetian Owned By Online Poker Opponent Sheldon Adelson

But while there were murmurs of unhappiness last time around, this time the TDA faced a torrent of opposition for the venue. Why such a strong response?

Because the Venetian is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which is in turn controlled by Sheldon Adelson: the man most responsible for the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), and the driving force behind efforts to ban online poker and other Internet gambling games in the USA.

That has been enough to make Adelson public enemy number one in the eyes of many poker players, particularly in the United States. Given that sentiment towards the man, that led many to wonder why the TDA would even consider the Venetian as an option, let alone decide to have their annual meetings there.

The Venetian does have a large poker room, which is probably how it got into the mix for hosting the event in some years. But Savage and others in the TDA pointed to a bigger deciding factor: the casino was willing to comp the conference areas used for the meetings, provided free audio/visual equipment, and reduced the rates for attendees to stay for the weekend.

Given that the meetings are a major industry event for tournament directors and participation helps make all directors better, the TDA wants the conference to be absolutely free to attend, and these concessions make that possible.

GPI Offers to Provide Alternative

Still, the poker world reacted harshly to the news, with Daniel Negreanu tweeting that the announcement might be “the most EPIC and elaborate April Fool’s Joke of all-time.” Offers immediately started coming in to host the event somewhere deemed more friendly to poker, some less serious than others: former World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Ryan Riess, for instance, said they could have the meetings at his home.

A more likely savior could be Global Poker Index CEO Alexandre Dreyfus. Upon hearing the uproar, Dreyfus said that the GPI would be willing to front the costs of the entire event, including conference rooms, equipment and rooms for the TDA’s board members if the summit were held anywhere except for the Venetian.

While it’s unclear whether or not this will ultimately result in a change in venue, there are reports that the TDA and Dreyfus are a least talking about a possible solution.

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