WPT logo, bwin.party, Ourgame WPT acquisition

The WPT grew under bwin.party, but was ultimately a loss-making acquisition tool. New owner Ourgame wants the brand to help it to grow into a “global social gaming company.”

The World Poker Tour has been sold to a Hong Kong-based social media games developer for $35 million in cash.

Owner bwin.party confirmed the sale, to Ourgame International Holdings Ltd, early Monday, adding that the deal had no bearing on the acquisition talks surrounding the rest of its assets.

The WPT was a “non-core asset of the group,” a company spokesperson said, emphasizing the recent sale of other units, such as Win, the company’s social gaming arm.

Bwin is currently in negotiations with 888 Holdings, which has offered an undisclosed cash and paper bid to acquire the company in its entirety, and Amaya Inc and GVC Holdings, which have proposed a €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) joint bid that would essentially divvy up bwin.party’s assets between the two.

User Acquisition Tool

Ourgame, a relatively unknown company in the English-speaking world, is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and specializes in online multi-platform card-based social games for the Chinese and East Asian markets, where it has 30 million active monthly users.

In 2014 its games brought in revenues of $76.7 million, and in December that year Ourgame acquired the rights to use the WPT brand in 14 countries across East Asia, including China, Malaysia, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. The two companies cooperated on the organization of the WPT China, late last year.

Under the terms of the agreement, bwin.party will continue to sponsor events on the tour in Europe and North America until December 31, 2016.

The WPT was essentially a customer acquisition tool for bwin.party. Last year it yielded a reported total revenue of around $11.8 million, and a loss at the clean earnings, before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, of $4.6 million

Since it acquired the WPT from creator Steve Lipscomb’s WPT Enterprises, for $12.3 million, bwin.party has grown the tour from a series of 16 main event stops to more than 70 events across the world, with the addition of WPT Alpha8, WPT National and WPT DeepStack events.

Ourgame says that the acquisition will help it grow to into a global social gaming brand.

“Over the past six years we have built WPT into a global franchise, with tournaments and TV deals in many countries including Asia, where poker remains a popular and growing sport,” said Martin Weigold, chief financial officer of bwin.party. “However, consistent with our strategy of divesting our non-core assets, we believe that now is the right time to release that value for shareholders so that we can focus our efforts on our core real money gaming and technology business.”

Ourgame is an “incredible technology company,” said Adam Plisksa, president and CEO of WPT, “and that was our greatest weakness.”