The past year has been especially tough on the gaming and sport industry with much of its live events having to take a step back given the circumstances. While major poker operators have resulted in an inevitable transition to online platforms, the detrimental effect of the posing global health crisis has regardless taken a toll on the business scheme of these companies.
New parent company for leading brand, WPT
In recent news, premier gaming and international brand World Poker Tour, previously managed by Allied Esports Entertainment has announced its sale to the private investment company Element Partners LLC. Announced just yesterday, January 19, 2021, the signed agreement entails Element Partners to pay a total of $68,250,000 upfront with the remaining $10 million to be paid over the next three years via a 5% share from WPT tournament entry fees.
The deal which is expected to close within the following weeks pending the Company’s shareholders’ approval and other required regulations, is presumed to aid Allied Esports Entertainment to engage and explore opportunities in various online entertainment and gaming sectors. The global venture is reportedly also determined to proceed in selling its esports business segment and rebrand the company according to the press release.
Allied Esports Entertainment CEO Frank Ng commented, “Despite the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WPT business has delivered substantial, impactful results, specifically through its online platforms and services, and has made meaningful contributions for the company,”
“Due to COVID-19’s impact on the Company’s overall revenue generation and profitability timeline, we believe the forthcoming sale of the WPT business will garner significant capital and an avenue to determine new opportunities that will deliver accelerated returns for our stakeholders.”, he added.
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
World Poker Tour, on the other hand, released a short announcement video on its social media page with long-time CEO Adam Pliska saying, “We think this deal will allow the World Poker Tour to do a number of things that it’s always wanted to do,”
“For myself and my management team, we’re still here and it’s business as usual. We look forward to this exciting opportunity and the next chapter of the World Poker Tour. We look forward to continuing to bring the best in poker around the world.”
A brief look into WPT history
Founded by producer Steven Lipscomb while financially backed by Lyle Berman in 2002, World Poker Tour has grown to be an internationally renowned poker operator through its eighteen years of existence. Over 150 million viewers tune in annually to its televised tournaments, undeniably making it one of the biggest poker brands in the live poker scene. Through its success, more than $1 billion in prize money has been awarded to its player pool across its tours with its most recent largest event in WPT history crushing the $100 million guaranteed prize pool.
Change in ownership of the popular brand is not fairly new to the World Poker Tour team with multiple previous sales having occurred in the last decade. In 2009, PartyGaming also known as partypoker, acquired the business for $12.3 million after trumping Gamnyia Limited’s shortlisted offer of $9 million. Six years later, Hong-Kong listed corporation Ourgame International Holding Ltd, gained interest in the business after a successful partnership with the brand. The Chinese company specializing in social gaming, eventually became the next buyer paying $35 million in total for the transaction. Only three short years after, co-founder Lyle Berman’s Black Ridge Acquisition Corp. procured WPT, merging it with Allied Esports International Inc. to become Allied Esports Entertainment Inc. The award-winning global esports entertainment venture had the vision to “connect players, streamers and fans around the world through its integrated arenas” which included its flagship venue HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas, host to the WPT’s televised final tables.
With the current sale pending its final approvals before the deal is closed, CEO of the WPT Adam Pliska wished to end the brand’s journey with Allied Esports Entertainment on a positive note. In the news release, he stated, “I want to thank Frank Ng and the entire AESE management team for its 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.”