Private investment company Element Partners LLC is the new owner of the World Poker Tour brand. The deal has been valued at $78 million. The deal is not yet finalized as the shareholders of the WPT must approve the transaction. If it goes through, the new owner will pay $68,250,000 for the brand along with a 5% worth up to $10 million on World Poker Tour branded tournament entry fees on Element gaming platforms. This amount would be paid over a three-year time frame once the deal is closed.
Changed Hands Before
The WPT was first started by Steve Lipscomb in 2002. He was backed financially by Lyle Berman. In no time, the WPT became a staple in the land-based poker scene. Eventually, the brand was taken over in 2009 by PartyGaming for just over $12 million.
With the party at the helm, the WPT brand expanded and joined forces with Ourgame International Holdings Ltd. To hold an event in China. The Ourgame company then became the next owner of the WPT in 2015, paying a whopping $35 million for the rights.
Fast-forward to 2018, and the Black Ridge Acquisition Corp. group paid an astonishing $213.8 million for WPT and Allied Esports International Inc. the two companies were then combined as one. At the time, it was expected that the poker brand would help the esports brand and vice versa.
Separating the Assets
Allied Esports took the WPT and Esports section and separated the assets. They decided to sell just the poker portion of the business for the $68.2 million prize tag. If the WPT will remain connected to the esports brand moving forward remains a mystery.
The WPT has changed somewhat over the years, moving towards online gaming, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the WPT live events were shut down due to the outbreak of the virus. The brand leaned on its partnership with partypoker to be able to offer online gaming.
The brand was successful, having hosted the WPT World Online Championships, of which many players participated. With players staying home and not going out as much, it led to an increase in online poker participation. Even the WPT’s subscription-based offering, ClubWPT, was a hit last year.
The option has always been popular but with the onset of the virus, players decided to sign up when they might not have normally used the subscription service. New registrations for ClubWPT were up over 60% while revenues increase 56% from the previous year.
With the sale of the brand, the WPT looks ahead to moving forward with its poker operations. Adam Pliska, the CEO of WPT, released a video on Twitter, stating that the new deal will allow the brand to do several things that it has always wanted to do. For Pliska and his management team, it will be business as usual as the new company takes over.
We shall see if the shareholders agree with the deal and how the WPT brand moves forward in 2021.