Bally’s Amends Offer to Buy World Poker Tour Only

Bally’s Amends Offer to Buy World Poker Tour Only

The World Poker Tour is still on the table for purchase by Bally’s Corporation or Element Partners. Allied Esports Entertainment has made it clear that it is ready to let go of the WPT and its assets. That seems even clearer with Bally’s new bid.

Meanwhile, the World Poker Tour and everyone associated with it wait to see what will happen. It is unlikely that the overall operations and immediate plans for the WPT will change much, but everyone can rest a bit easier when a deal is done and the fine print is magnified.

The WPT is still working with a number of online poker operators – 888poker, Poker King, PartyPoker – to offer events like the WPT500 to players around the world. And in the United States, the tour revived its live events in the past few months, recently completing a main tour stop at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Players on hold from the beginning of 2020 via delayed final tables are finally looking forward to playing those out, as the first one did so successfully last week at the PokerGO Studio.

Executives, on the other hand, are waiting to find out who owns the company going forward.

Initial Filings and Offers

It started on January 19, 2021, at least for the public’s knowledge. The World Poker Tour announced that Allied Esports Entertainment was preparing to sell the WPT to Element Partners, a privately-held investment firm.

The price tag was $78.25M, and it sounded like the deal was mostly done. Allied Esports wanted to offload the poker part of its business. And the deal seemed on track to be done in the following weeks, in early February at the latest.

February came and went with no further news.

On March 5, however, there was unexpected news. Bally’s Corporation submitted an unsolicited proposal to acquire all of Allied Esports Entertainment, including the World Poker Tour, for $100M. It would be payable in cash, Bally’s stock, or both. The only stipulation was the obvious, that Allied Esports terminate the Element Partners deal for the WPT.

Allied Esports announced that its board of directors would consider the proposal.

Just the WPT, Please

On March 16, Allied Esports reported another bid, this time a revised proposal from Bally’s Corporation. Instead of Bally’s acquiring all of Allied Esports, Bally’s would be happy to purchase the WPT and all poker-related businesses and assets for $90M in cash.

Allied Esports seems to be on board with the new offer. The press release stated that its board of directors and financial and legal advisors dubbed the revised proposal a “superior proposal” to the prior Element Partners offer.

Allied also notified Element that it will terminate the stock purchase agreement at the end of the day on March 19 unless the two companies “negotiate an amendment to their pending stock purchase agreement such that the Bally’s revised proposal no longer constitutes a superior proposal.”

In other words, it’s Element Partners’ move to raise or fold.

And if there is no better offer by the end of business on Friday, March 19, the Element deal is off. Of course, Allied carefully stated that there is “no assurance” of a definitive agreement with Bally’s yet.

Unknown vs Known Entities

The deal may come down to money. Bally’s submitted a bid that was quite a bit more financially attractive than that from Element Partners.

If the World Poker Tour has any say in the matter, the purchaser is likely a factor. Perhaps the WPT knows Element’s plans for the company after the purchase, but the Bally’s offer is on the table, out in the open, for all to see.

Bally’s is a known entity in the gambling world. It currently owns and manages more than a dozen properties in the United States. Many of them are also in areas of the country that the WPT has yet to host major events, such as Golden Gates in Colorado and the Hard Rock in Mississippi or Dover Downs in Delaware.

And Bally’s is growing, currently executing its strategy of expansion through acquisitions and deals.

Whatever the factors, the fate of the World Poker Tour should become clearer by the end of this week.

 

 

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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