Since its heyday in the pre-UIGEA poker boom, the World Poker Tour has been on a deep dark downward spiral. Viewing figures have waned, tournament attendance has suffered, and profits have dried up. The last 12 months have been extremely testing for the former TV-poker giant. Recently released financial figures show that the WPT Enterprises recently recorded their second consecutive profitable month for the first time in a very long while.
Rumors surrounding the sale of the company intensified over the past few months, with European betting giant bwin looking like the most likely purchasers. Although firms such as Full Tilt and Poker Stars were also believed to be in the mix.
Yesterday World Poker Tour Enterprises announced the sale of its poker tournament properties to the relatively unknown Gamynia Limited. The company, who forms part of a private investment group, have purchased the rights to both the WPT and the Professional Poker Tour for total of $9.075 million plus a percentage of future profits. Although the ‘World Poker Tour Enterprises’ company still exists, it no longer owns the actual World Poker Tour.
Also included in the deal are the complete back catalogue of WPT episodes and all intellectual property pertaining the brand. WPTE still retains a small stake in the TV show for the near future. The official press release states that they will continue to receive revenue from “the sponsorship of Seasons Four, Five, and Six of the World Poker Tour and Season One of the Professional Poker Tour by Party Gaming and the license of Season Seven of the World Poker Tour to PokerStars.” The company also retains their “cash and cash equivalents, investments in debt securities and put rights, certain other investment and litigation assets.”
There has been no official statement from Gamynia Ltd., but making a concerted push into the online poker world seems to be part of their business plan. They have employed Hardway Investements in order to “exploit and develop the WPT brands with the goal of maximizing future revenue opportunities.” Hardway has a long line of poker and gambling clients including Playtech (who run the iPoker network) and Titan Poker. What will become of the TV show remains unclear, but the general structure of the WPT business appears to be remaining intact. Filming for the latest tournament season is currently underway.
The sale is slated for completion by late 2009, although it still needs to obtain a majority shareholder vote. Many of the major WPTE shareholders have already committed to the sale, amounting to a 39% ‘Yes’ vote so far. The WPTE is looking to cut their loses and move out of the poker industry. They claim that they will combine the money from the sale with their current liquid assets to “develop or acquire a non-poker related business.”