Bwin.party, the giant online gambling company, is selling World Poker Tour (WPT) to a social gaming firm based in China for $1.5 billion. The WPT organizes televised live poker tournaments.
Ourgame Holdings, which has its headquarters in Hong Kong, is acquiring the WPT for $35 million in cash, despite the fact that Bwin.party is still engaged in discussions with bidders.
The Nasdaq-listed World Poker Tour, which organizes 70 poker tournaments every year and gives away millions of dollars in prizes, was acquired by PartyGaming for $12.3 million in 2009. Later, PartyGaming merged with Bwin to become Bwin.party.
Bwin.party stated that the sale of WPT, which was mostly used to acquire players, will not have any effect on its ongoing discussions with bidders. Last year, WPT had contributed as much as €10.4 million in revenues.
Amaya Gaming, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, is presenting a bid worth $1.5 billion in cash and shares, competing fiercely with 888 Holdings, which is also a bidder.
Bwin.party stated that “WPT is a non-core asset of the group” and that its sale “is wholly inconsistent with the group’s increased focus on our real money gaming and technology business.”
Ourgame Holdings, which mostly deals with online card games for Chinese players, said that it acquired WPT to build an international social gambling brand. The company generated $76.7 million in revenues last year and claimed that it has around 30 million active users per month, which is just a fraction of the 420 million active users Zynga claims to get every month.
CEO Frank Ng said that he plans to develop games under the brand name of WPT, cutting down on the millions spent in marketing the company’s own games. Pointing out that Ourgame is little known in the international market, he said that the WPT brand “can carry us.”
Launched in 2002 and floated a couple of years later, the WPT stated that the acquisition deal will accelerate the development of Club WPT, its young online gambling business. WPT CEO and President Adam Pliska said: “Ourgame is an incredible technology company, and that was our greatest weakness.”
At the beginning of June, Ruth Parasol, founder of PartyGaming, and Russ De Leon, her former husband, the trustees of two of the biggest shareholders of Bwin.party, agreed to sell their stake according to an agreement signed to facilitate the country’s entry into the newly regulated US gambling markets.