WPT to change ownership; poker operations to remain unaffected

WPT to change ownership; poker operations to remain unaffected

The World Poker Tour is about to experience another round of musical chairs after Ourgame International Holdings Ltd., agreed to sell WPT Enterprises and Allied Esports to the acquisition specialists Black Ridge Acquisition Corp.

The World Poker Tour (WPT) is set to undergo another change of ownership, but don’t fret, there isn’t a burnt out clutch smell to the latest wheeling and dealing.

WPT to change ownership; poker operations to remain unaffectedA purpose-built acquisition company called Black Ridge Acquisition Corp. has agreed to buy the World Poker Tour (WPT) Enterprises, and Allied Esports subsidiaries of OurGame International Holdings Ltd., for a sum believed to be in the region of $150 million.

The deal will see Black Ridge, spearheaded by the Poker Hall of Famer and three-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner, Lyle Berman, change their name to Allied Esports Entertainment Inc., and will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol AESE.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Black Ridge Chairman, Ken DeCubellis, talked about the gap in the Esports market that the new enterprise aims to fill, namely the monetisation of the viewership.

Poker has a global player base of 40 million people, whereas video gaming boasts a monstrous player base of 2.2 billion, with more than 380 million people consuming video game and Esports content.

Black Ridge wants in on that action, by leveraging the WPT’s vast experience in running live events and managing media distribution, bringing those tools of the trade to the Esports business.

The deal follows the creation of the Allied Esports Property Network designed to help venue operators to create Esports, poker and gaming events and then sell on the content. There is also plans to move viewers onto a new online tournament platform in 2020.

The deal is expected to go through in the first few months of 2019, and fans of the WPT needn’t worry. Ourgame International Holdings CEO, Frank Ng, is expected to take a position within the new company and told Bloomberg that the poker operations remain unaffected by the acquisition and that Adam Pliska remains in situ as the WPT’s CEO.

The new company expects to invest a further $100m over the next three years on new brick and mortar venues and adding six new Esports trucks.

Earlier this year, the WPT announced plans to host North American-based Main Event final tables at the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas in the Luxor Hotel, with dates secured for the finals of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, the Borgata Winter Open and the LA Poker Classic. 

Last week, the poker community showed that the fire still burns hard in the belly of the WPT by turning out in their droves to create the biggest $10k field outside of the WSOP Main Event when 1,001 entrants created a $9,709,000 prize pool at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at The Bellagio with Dylan Linde winning the $1.6m first prize.

Ourgame International acquired the WPT from bwin.party in 2015 for $35m.