bwin.party has reached an agreement to sell the World Poker Tour to Chinese online game developer OurGame.com for $35mm.
Details of the deal were made available via a filing from OurGame.
The closing date for the deal is June 25.
The deal appears to include all components of WPT, including the live tour, existing episode library, all intellectual property and the subscription-based poker site ClubWPT.com.
Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO of Global Poker Index, called the sale “a tremendous opportunity for poker and for the World Poker Tour,” noting that OurGame has the “entrepreneurial spirit and the cash to help WPT achieve global growth.”
There is no reason to believe that it will be anything but business as usual at WPT following this news, with no disruptions to upcoming or scheduled events anticipated as a result of the sale.
“We have a partner that is not here to change the World Poker Tour,” Pliska told All In.
“It’s here to enhance it and make sure that for at least the next 10 years or so, nobody’s going to be worried that World Poker Tour’s going away.”
In fact, the new WPT will closely resemble the old one, at least through 2016.
Per details provided by bwin.party, PartyPoker will “continue to sponsor various WPT events and television shows in both the United States and Europe until 31 December 2016,” and “has a right of first refusal over such additional sponsorship opportunities that may become available until 31 December 2016.”
OurGame is a Chinese game portal offering a wide array of games, with a monetization model loosely similar to Zynga’s.
OurGame went public in June 2014, raising $107mm in an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
The company’s stock has enjoyed a dramatic runup over the last six months:
Poker enjoys prominent placement within the OurGame portal, with the “poker world” section already featuring a number of WPT tie-ins.
OurGame has been a WPT licensee since 2012. The company cited the “cost savings through the elimination of the Group’s royalty payments” to the WPT as part of the core rationale for purchase.
It seems likely at this point that the World Poker Tour sale will be only the first in a series of relatively proximate announcements regarding other elements of bwin.party.
The potential sale comes at a critical juncture for New Jersey’s online poker market, which is suffering from declining revenues and hampered by a player base that can arguably support only one unique network.
WSOP arguably has more potential upside with online thanks to existing operations in Nevada and a land-based presence in several other states that could conceivably regulate.
Given those conditions, and the red ink flowing from Party’s New Jersey operations, the future of that division is perhaps the most unclear among all parts of the bwin.party portfolio.