Poker sites seeks DM shop as part of integrated push

LONDON - The US online gaming service Ultimate Poker is holding a pitch for an £8m integrated ad account as it prepares to launch into the UK when gaming rules are relaxed next year.

The company is using the AAR to help it appoint a creative, direct marketing, media and PR agency. It intends its UK debut to coincide with a shake-up of gambling laws that is expected to pave the way for an influx of US casino owners and gambling outlets.

Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, has defended the plans to liberalise Britain's gaming laws, which could see casinos open 24 hours a day and able to run advertising for the first time.

Gambling in the UK is currently worth more than £60bn each year.

The brief for the pitch is to devise a through-the-line brand campaign to raise awareness of the services offered by UltimatePoker. Ultimatebet.com, its website, offers online tournaments including poker and seven-card stud, along with tips from professionals and chat rooms. It has operated in the US since 2000.

In the UK, Ultimate Poker will compete against 888 and ParadisePoker, with advertising fronted by the model Caprice, in a rapidly expanding market. As part of the gaming bill, websites operating from within the UK could be forced to impose compulsory age checks.

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