Allied Esports Selling WPT to Element, LLC
Big news this week on the Poker front is that Allied Esports Entertainment has announced that it is in the process of selling the World Poker Tour to new owners Element Partners, LLC. The deal is expected to be finalised as early as late January/early February, the parties have confirmed.
The $78.25 million sale includes the World Poker Tour and all of its assets and will be paid primarily in cash ($68.25 million). The balance of the purchase price will reportedly come from WPT tourney entry fees on gaming platforms owned by Element. The $10m balance will be paid in increments over the course of the next three years, and in payments of 5% of said entry fees, the Tuesday announcement confirmed.
Allied May Turn SPAC
Allied also confirmed that it has received indications of future offers of potential buyers interested in acquiring its core esports business, and that it may decide to offload that as well. Those assets will not necessarily be sold to Element. No official offers have been tabled as of yet.
The current indication is that Allied Esports is looking to become a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The plan is to rename itself and list as a publicly traded holding company just as soon as all of its interests in its Poker and esports business endeavours have been divested of. The Element sale announcement on Tuesday boosted Allied Esports shares by around 16%.
The Fourth Changing Of Hands
This will not be the first time that the World Poker Tour changes hands. It has since it was founded by Steve Lipscomb in 2002 changed ownership several times. Initially started out under the umbrella of WPT Enterprises, it in 2009 got offloaded to PartyGaming in a $12.3 million deal. PartyGaming would eventually go on to merge with big brand bwin in 2011, which led to the formation of bwin Party Digital Entertainment.
Then in 2014, after the WPT entered into a licensing deal with Asia-focused Ourgame, the ownership focus shifted again. Ourgame eventually went on to acquire the World Poker Tour from bwin for $35 million in June 2015.
The final changing of hands happened in December 2018, when Ourgame sold the WPT as well as Allied Esports Entertainment to Black Ridge Acquisition Corp, for $150 million. Black Ridge, also a special purpose acquisition corp., was at the time controlled by World Poker Tour co-founder Lyle Berman.
The company eventually rebranded to Allied Esports Entertainment and began trading on NASDAQ under AESE.