On Tuesday, the parent company of the World Poker Tour announced that it had been acquired by Element Partners LLC, a relatively unknown private equity firm. The deal marks the third change of ownership for WPT in the last six years.
The deal was revealed to be for a total of $78,250,000, which includes $68,250,000 million in upfront payments plus an additional $10 million on revenue share from tournament fees.
In a video statement from WPT CEO Adam Pliska, he noted that the deal will allow the company to do some things it has “always wanted to do.”
Specific details are expected to be released once the deal officially closes, expected to be in late January or early February. Once the deal has been completed, the new company will also look at “strategic options” for its rapidly growing eSports business, including a possible sale.
The management team of the WPT, including Pliska will continue to be part of the company.
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
A brief history
The World Poker Tour burst onto the poker scene in 2002 with its ground-breaking and iconic poker show that introduced hole cards to the public for the first time. Since its inception almost 20 years ago, the tour has awarded $1 billion in prize money through the World Poker Tour.
The company has changed hands a few times since it was launched. In 2013, it was purchased by partypoker in 2003 for $12 million. Ourgame International Holdings Limited then acquired the company for $35 million in 2015. It was then sold to Black Ridge Acquisition Corp in 2019 for $50 million as part of a larger deal, where it was listed as Allied Esports Entertainment.
Despite the repeated change of ownership, WPT events continue to be a fixture on the live poker circuit with events still broadcast on television, Fox Sports Net in the United States and BT Sport in the United Kingdom. Although the 2020 schedule was severely interrupted due to COVID-19, there were a handful of WPT Online events held throughout the year, notably on partypoker.
With a new year, it looks like there might be a return to a normal live schedule. WPT Montreal just got underway earlier this week, and there are plans to play the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open next later in the week with WPT Russia and WPT at Venetian penciled in for the next couple of months.
The gaming world reacts
The reaction to the news of the acquisition of the World Poker Tour was met with a mostly positive reaction, with many optimistic that poker players would be a benefactor, either directly or through WPT further growing the game.
Looks like they sold for $78 million. Profitable sale. Lets see what the new owners do with it. My initial reaction is this is a good thing.
— R Hogan (@gogetemtigers) January 19, 2021
Best of luck in this new chapter!
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) January 19, 2021
— Jud Hannigan (@judhannigan) January 19, 2021
WPT was purchased in 2015 for $35M and was given a value of $50 million in 2019.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 19, 2021