Bally’s Corp is trying to buy the WPT

Jon Pill
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Posted on: March 10, 2021 3:13 pm EST

Bally’s Las Vegas has put in a bid to buy Allied Esports outright. Allied Esports is the umbrella under whose shadow the World Poker Tour shelters.

The $100 million offer is only valid if Allied Esports comes with the WPT brand. However, Allied might not have the WPT for much longer.

The news of Bally’s offer comes just a few weeks after the announcement that Allied is selling the WPT brand and that a deal had been more or less accepted.

In fact, Adam Pliska, the CEO of the WPT, went so far as to make a video announcement in January on Twitter. At the time he said that the WPT and its related trademarks, brands, and business streams were going, going, gone to Element Partners LLC.

The WPT even moved the filming of its TV final tables from the Allied Esport’s owned HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to PokerGO’s studio.

Now it looks like all that palaver might have been an auctioneering tactic.

Element offered $78 million for the WPT. Bally’s is offering $100 million for the whole kit and caboodle. Element’s cheque hasn’t cleared yet. Bally’s are still in with a chance. Which could massively shift the direction of one of poker’s biggest brands.

The players

Allied Esports became the proud owners of the WPT brand in 2018. As their name suggests, the company had an esports focus. During the pandemic, they took the WPT into a slew of new markets and innovated with first online, then hybrid schedules ahead of their competition. Despite the growth, it seems that Allied Esports wanted to go back to their esport roots and started looking to dump off their WPT furniture somewhere else.

Enter Element Partners LLC, an investment firm that owns a range of businesses and was looking for something in the entertainment sector to keep them amused. Their $78 million offer took the form of a mix of up-front payments and a cut of the future business. It looked juicy enough for Allied to bite.

Enter Bally’s Corporation. Bally’s Corporation is a large player in the U.S. casino industry owning and operating 12 casinos across the United States. Though none of their properties are in Vegas.

Bally’s Corp has been mopping up loose fragments of the gambling and entertainment industry in the last year. Since the start of 2020, they’ve acquired sports betting provider Bet.Works, taken over daily fantasy sports company Monkey Knife Fight, and cut a deal to rebrand the Fox Sports Network as Bally Sports. Clearly didn’t run that one past a Brit.

More than half of Bally’s current brick and mortar holdings were purchased in the last year.

What a tangled web we weave

Bally’s Corporation even bought their name from Caesar’s Entertainment in the recent past. Until October of last year, Bally’s Corporation was called Twin River Worldwide.

The casino currently known as Bally’s Las Vegas is in fact, thanks to the bizarre way the casino industry works, owned and operated by Caesar’s Entertainment. The name may change soon. Bally’s Las Vegas was once the old MGM Grand. And so it goes.

If Bally’s Las Vegas doesn’t change its name, then the deal will set up a pleasing symmetry.

Caesar’s Entertainment owns the World Series of Poker. Harrah’s merged with them last year bringing the WSOP brand along. As a result, the last year would have, in a roundabout way, ended up pitting the Bally’s building against the Bally’s Corporation in a TV rating proxy war between a World Series and a World Tour.

Featured image source: Flickr