World Poker Tour Sold for $78 Million
One of the most recognized brands in the poker industry has been sold – again. On Tuesday, news broke that the World Poker Tour has been sold yet again. This time around, Element Partners LLC has purchased the brand in a deal worth up to $78 million.
This is the fourth time that the World Poker Tour has been sold. Not much is known about the future of the company, but it appears that the company will continue to focus on the online endeavors that the WPT has made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
World Poker Tour Sold for $78 Million
On Tuesday, the poker world was stunned to discover that the World Poker Tour has once again been sold. This time around, Element Partners LLC is purchasing the company. Under the terms of the deal, Element Partners will pay $68.25 million upfront and then pay an additional $10 million over three years through 5 percent shares of entry fees for WPT-branded tournaments.
Allied Esports Entertainment Announces the Sale of World Poker Tour to Element Partners, LLC.
Here is WPT CEO Adam Pliska (@pliska007) with more.
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) January 19, 2021
WPT CEO Adam Pliska spoke about the deal. He stated, “I want to thank Frank Ng and the entire AESE management team for their support in allowing WPT to flourish during this period. My management team and I are excited about this next chapter and the tremendous new opportunities for the WPT brand and business.”
Fourth Sale of the World Poker Tour
One thing that’s been a constant in the history of the World Poker Tour is an ownership change. Originally founded by Steve Lipscomb and Lyle Berman, the World Poker Tour was originally sold to PartyGaming back in 2009 for $12.3 million.
Partypoker flipped the WPT in 2015 to Ourgame International Holdings Ltd for $35 million. Ourgame only held onto the WPT for three years. In 2018, the Black Ridge Acquisition corporation paid a combined $213.8 million to acquire both the World Poker Tour and Allied Esports International Inc. Lyle Berman helped to back the deal and the two companies were merged to form Allied Esports Entertainment Inc. Allied Esports Entertainment only sold off the WPT side of the business.
So What’s Next for the WPT?
The World Poker Tour has undergone some changes thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. All live poker events have been canceled and the company has been forced to move games online. Online gambling went up 67% during the pandemic and online poker has flourished as well.
For example, the WPT World Online Championships at partypoker created prize pools of over $100 million. This would have been unheard of in the early days of the WPT. Online casino gambling has flourished over the years as players flock to play their favorite online casino games. For example, Australian online casinos continue to show strong growth despite the pandemic and other external factors.
For the WPT, Element’s commitment to online poker may have been a driving factor in the sale. The fact that the company is willing to front $10 million worth of prize pools could have been the deciding factor. Granted, Allied Esports will not see a dime of that $10 million as that money will go to players.
Looking forward to the future, a company willing to focus on online poker will have a better chance of growing the World Poker Tour, at least in the short term. The global pandemic will not be ending this year. It may be 2022 or later before we start seeing live poker tournaments consistently. Element may be in the best position to grow the WPT and take advantage of the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. Either event, don’t be surprised to see the WPT sell to another buyer yet again in a few years.
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