WSOP Players Accuse Vendor of Harassment
There has been one consistent complaint during each of the last few years of the World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas. Players and reporters alike have been annoyed by one particular vendor that sells mobile device chargers and headphones.
Vendors can rent space in the Rio Convention Center during the seven weeks of the WSOP, and those companies then line the main hallway between the Convention Center entrance and the tournament rooms. Players, reporters, fans, and employees all must walk past the vendor booths at least twice – often many more – per day.
Being an annoyance is not grounds to revoke a license to operate in the Rio hallway. It was often noted by WSOP attendees in past years that the phone charger salespeople were annoying, always talking to people as they walked by, sometimes yelling at them.
This is probably the worst part of going to the Rio. Really surprised @wsop allows it to continue. I don’t like ignoring people & the last thing you want after u lose a tournament is to be asked for the 3rd time that day if u want the same product again and again and again…??
— Nicolas 'Nick' Yunis (@nickyunis) June 4, 2018
This year, the tactics seem to have gone well beyond what may have been deemed annoying. Or perhaps the tactics alleged this year have only been brought into a bright light by a voice that is not often ignored in the poker community.
Joey Ingram is known for his passionate love of PLO as well as his in-depth podcasts that often address issues from which others shy away. And today, Ingram decided he had enough of the phone charger salespeople and their harassment. He took it even further to allege that the men at the booth have also been sexually harassing women at this year’s WSOP.
This video brought a lot of issues to the fore:
Ingram did a preliminary investigation into the products themselves, which seem to be sold by Las Vegas-based Pro Royal at a massive markup, i.e. hundreds of dollars for items found online for $5 to $20. He found numerous negative reviews of the products online and called into question the legitimacy of the company’s sales tactics, pricing, and product quality.
The crux of the complaint, however, is the way the Pro Royal employees treat everyone walking by the booth at the Rio. Outright harassment is the primary focus of stories relayed to Ingram, but employees also allegedly harass people who try to walk by and ignore them. And their misogynistic and harassing treatment of women is said to be truly disturbing.
I spoke to a number of different people over the past few days who shared their experiences & thoughts on these people. As well as multiple different women who talked about the sexual comments made anytime they walked by.
Players shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable at WSOP
— Joey Ingram (@Joeingram1) June 4, 2018
People quickly responded to Ingram’s video with stories and comments of their own:
Wow it’s so crazy. I left the Rio feeling like suuuuuper uncomfortable. Ty for saying something. Wow…
— Kristy Arnett (@KristyArnett) June 4, 2018
This is the same thing others shared with me and what I watched take place the last few days. pic.twitter.com/QLGAQYRCIP
— Joey Ingram (@Joeingram1) June 4, 2018
Walk by yesterdy & saw what ? to b a rec in twn for wknd w/bag full of these products saying “I’m not buying anymore stuff man” & salesman grabbed him around the neck in semi hug/headlock & says “let me show you this my friend”. Guy pushes him off and walks away. Insanity @WSOP
— Brant Hale (@branthale4) June 4, 2018
Absolutely. Women have been speaking out about this for far too long for them to continue doing business with a vendor that openly harasses their customers.
— Amanda Baker (@Mandy22Baker) June 4, 2018
I’m not even a hot chick, and these dudes have been telling me I’m gorgeous every time I walk by for three straight years. It’s gotten past the point to annoyance to the point of getting anxious when I have to walk by. I’d love to be left the hell alone, as I’m sure we all would. https://t.co/Zndmh8lfbv
— Emily (@OhDagEmily) June 4, 2018
Seth Palansky has been with the WSOP for years, now serving as the Editor-in-Chief of its website. He also handles media relationships, and he did respond quickly today when asked about the alleged harassment from Pro Royal.
As to the vetting of the company, Palansky responded, “The company and its principals get vetted prior to us providing booth space. In this company’s case, they are all throughout Vegas, at casinos, at Miracle Mile Shops, etc., so they are well known. That said, we don’t have authority to scrub employees of another company. That is the company principals’ domain.”
With regard to harassment, Palansky said:
“We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment. We would use our rights in our contract to terminate the relationship. We have not received any formal complaints in regard to this matter. We would take any complaints seriously. If anyone has had or has an issue, they should immediately report it to any security team member in a yellow shirt, and it will be handled from there following company protocols.
“We have spoken to the company and made them aware of the allegations and have put them on notice. We are adding additional surveillance coverage as well in this area to have additional eyes.”
To everyone at the WSOP, it is incumbent upon anyone who is the victim of harassment or who witnesses it to report it immediately. Mentioning it on Twitter is not sufficient. Per Palansky, it should be reported to a member of the security team wearing yellow shirts, and it wouldn’t hurt to mention it to other WSOP staff as well.
Please file reports. It may take a few minutes or more, but it will likely result in the end of the harassment.
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