World Poker Tour Bidding War Ends in $105M Deal, Private Equity Beats Bally’s

Posted on: April 1, 2021, 02:22h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2021, 03:52h.

The World Poker Tour (WPT) will be sold, pending regulatory approval, for $105 million. Allied Esports is the seller, and the buyer is Element Partners, LLC, a private equity firm based in Wayne, Pa. 

World Poker Tour Allied Esports
A World Poker Table baize is pictured. The tour’s parent company is selling the poker business for $105 million. (Image: World Poker Tour)

A high-stakes bidding war for the WPT quickly escalated over the past month between Element and the newly formed Bally’s Corporation. After Allied initially planned to unload the poker business to Element for $78 million in January, Bally’s made an unsolicited $100 million offer for WPT, as well as Element’s esports assets. 

A back-and-forth ensued, with Bally’s earlier this month amending its offer to $105 million for only the WPT. Allied said during its investors call this week that Element matched the offer, and after reviewing the two proposals, Element was deemed the victor.

“On March 24, 2021, Allied Esports announced that Bally’s had offered $100 million, then $105 million for the World Poker Tour,” Frank Ng, Allied Esports Entertainment CEO said on the call. “On March 30, Allied Esports announced that Element had offered $105 million for the World Poker Tour, which Allied Esports accepted.”

Allied Esports Entertainment was formed in August of 2019 when Black Ridge Acquisition Group combined Allied Esports and WPT into one entity and took the combined unit public. 

Shares of the company were flat yesterday on news of the WPT sale. However, they were up 2.78 percent today to close at $2.96 per share.

WPT Financials

Allied Esports’ Q4 2020 earnings results revealed that the World Poker Tour had a strong finish to the year. 

The WPT generated revenue of $5.9 million in the final three months, a 30.7 percent gain on Q4 in 2019. Net income was approximately $900,000, compared with a $100,000 loss in the prior year.

“While restrictions on hosting events since the start of the pandemic have been stricter in the United States than certain places around the world during the fourth quarter, WPT was able to hold both live and online events in other countries,” Allied Esports CFO Tony Hung explained. 

In a span of just 18 days, the WPT held 154 poker events with more than 60,000 entries and a total prize pool in excess of $2 million. 

Esports Back

Allied disposing of the WPT returns the company to an esports-only group. 

The company’s main asset is its HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The 30,000-square-foot multilevel venue is the first dedicated esports arena on the Strip.

Allied returned live esports competitions at the arena in late June. HyperX’s Saturday Night Speedway featuring Mario Kart 8 is back, too. Player registration begins at just $10, and qualifying races start at 6:45 pm. A $700 prize pool is up for grabs. 

Tournament capacity remained limited to 35 percent in Q4. However, that limit was increased to 50 percent effective March 15.