It's never a dull day in the business world. In case you've been busy with life or the upcoming March Madness college basketball tournament, there's been a new twist in the ongoing saga of the World Poker Tour. Just when you thought the WPT was sold... there's been a new suitor. Bally's tossed in a wad of cash at the last minute.
Let's rewind a bit. Back in January, news broke that the World Poker Tour was up for sale. Allied eSports Entertainment, the parent company of the World Poker Tour, offered to sell the WPT brand to Element Partners for $78,250,000. Not much was known about Element Partners aside from the fact they are a venture capital and private equity growth firm that establish in 2005.
On their website, it says... "Element Partners is the leading growth equity fund dedicated to investments in sustainability technology & innovation in large industrial markets including energy, water, transportation, manufacturing, food, and agriculture. Element strives to partner with management in high growth companies providing them with the financial resources, industry contacts, and strategic insights necessary to maximize growth and shareholder value."
Their current investments include AMP, Petra Systems, Detechton, Encore Commercial Flooring, Energex, Hayward Gordon, and Petra Systems. Previous investments included Quench, Soleras, TPI, TAS, 212 Resources, Agility Fuel Solutions, AquaVenture, Icyene, LumaSense Technologies, and Seven Seas Water.
I know what you're thinking, what the heck does the World Poker Tour have in common with any of the elements?
Lyle Berman, the original founder of the WPT, sold the company to PartyGaming in 2009 for $12.3 million. In 2018, Berman wanted the WPT back but by then it had been sold to Ourgame. Berman's company, Black Ridge Acquisition Corporation, bought the WPT from Ourgame for $50 million. BRAC rebranded as Allied Esports Entertainment. In just three years, Berman was able to flip WPT for a profit. Heck $78 million sounded like a great deal one year from the start of the pandemic. The fact that someone wants to pay $90 million makes it a sensational deal.
Bally's currently owns casinos and racetracks in several states and they're an establish gambling brand. Don't be confused with Bally's on the LV Strip currently owned by Caesars Entertainment. Bally's owns their own casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They also own casinos in Black Hawk, Colorado along with gambling properties in Missouri, Delaware, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
At least with Bally's, there's a gambling connection versus the private equity company that would hold on to the WPT until they can flip it for a profit.
Word got out in early March that Bally's offered up $100 million in cash and stock. The actually number is $90 million.
According to a statement from Allied, "Under the terms of Bally's revised proposal, Bally's would acquire all of the equity interests of Club Services, Inc. (CSI), an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company that directly or indirectly owns the Company's poker-related business and assets, including the entities comprising the World Poker Tour, for consideration totaling $90 million in cash at the closing."
Bally's, also known as Twin River, has been in the mood to acquire properties with an eye on the future. They acquired Monkey Knife Fight (MKF) daily fantasy sports for a pretty family. They also worked out a nine-figure deal to acquire BetWorks, which handles sports betting tech. By acquiring the WPT, Bally's could make strides into the live tournament world and online poker realm.