Element Partners to Pick Up World Poker Tour for $78M

Element Partners to Pick Up World Poker Tour for $78M

The World Poker Tour announced today, January 19, that Element Partners will buy the World Poker Tour and all of its assets from Allied Esports Entertainment for $78.25 million.

Interesting news, indeed.

The last time the World Poker Tour changed hands was when it was WPT Enterprises. In December 2018, Black Ridge Acquisition scooped up WPT Enterprises and Allied Esports Entertainment from Ourgame.

The $213.8 million deal focused on esports and video gaming. (The WPT part of the deal was worth $50 million of that.) The World Poker Tour and its “proven business model” would help with the “much bigger, higher-growth global esports business.” As the months became years, the only apparent connection between the WPT and esports was the filming of WPT final tables at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas.

Now, the World Poker Tour is on the road to new ownership again.

Press Release Leaves Much Unsaid

Element Partners is a privately-held investment vehicle used to acquire the World Poker Tour for $78,250,000 from Allied Esports Entertainment. Allied’s Board of Directors approved the deal, which will consist of an initial $68,250,000 payment and a 5% revenue share of WPT-branded tournament entre fees on Element-owned gaming platforms. That will max out at $10 million over a period of three years.

The deal is moving along quickly, and they expect to close on it in the coming weeks or in early February at the latest. Allied shareholders and regulators in appropriate markets must approve the deal as well.

When all is said and done, Allied will proceed under a new name after selling its esports business. The company will move forward to explore new “online entertainment” opportunities, possibly in the real-money gaming sector.

Allied Esports CEO Frank Ng noted that the WPT delivered “substantial, impactful results” despite the pandemic challenges. The esports part of Allied did exceptionally well, though. Though the pandemic affected Allied overall, Ng said, “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.”

Trading on Nasdaq as AESE, Allied’s shareholders seemed pleased with the news. Shares went from $1.5662 at Monday’s opening this week and hit $1.9093 by Tuesday’s opening.

Interesting HyperX News

On January 13, 2021, Allied Esports announced that it renewed naming rights with HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor on the Strip. HyperX will retain the naming rights sponsorship of the venue.

HyperX Marketing Director Daniel Kelley called the arena a “best-in-class esports destination,” making no mention of poker. In fact, the press release fails to mention poker or the WPT at all.

It might mean something. It could mean nothing at all. Time will tell.

What is Next for World Poker Tour?

The press release was vague, as those documents tend to be.

It did note that the WPT expanded into the online poker realm in 2020 with massive series. The World Poker Tour’s subscription online poker site, ClubWPT, experienced an increase in new registrations by 61% through Q3 2020. Further, WPT’s OTT household viewership increased 368% year-on-year, and linear household viewership grew 77%.

The World Poker Tour can’t say much until the deal is final, obviously. WPT CEO Adam Pliska noted, “My management team and I are excited about this next chapter and the tremendous new opportunities for the WPT brand and business.”

Pliska provided a bit more mystery with a video posted on social media just after the announcement. “We think this deal will allow the World Poker Tour to do a number of things that it’s always wanted to do. Unfortunately, I’m being told that, until the deal closes, I can’t really say much about the transaction.”

 

 

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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