Entain brings in bankers to sell former online giant partypoker

PartyPoker up for sale
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: March 12, 2024 15:49 PDT

Entain plc, the owner of partypoker and numerous other gambling brands, has reportedly begun shopping the legendary brand in search of a corporate buyer. Rumors of Entain's plans to sell off the partypoker unit have circled within the gaming industry in recent days and weeks, and on Tuesday, the UK's Sky News reported that Entain has hired an investment banking firm to locate interested buyers.

Sky News reported that Entain has retained Oakvale Capital LLP, a London-based financial-services firm, to aid Entain's search for a buyer. Oakvale's experience in and familiarity with the gaming sector is expected to help Entain maximize its return from selling off the party brand, which despite its legendary history now ranks outside the global top ten online-poker networks in cash-game traffic.

Industry sources quoted in the Sy News report suggest that partypoker and related assets should sell for around £150 million, and its update reiterates rumors that the party brand is no longer considered a "core asset" within Entain's sprawling operations. Evidence of party's de-emphasis was on display last week when Entain issued its 2023 full-year results, wherein the party brand specifically went unmentioned in Entain's 44-page report.

Long tumble for original 'World's Largest Poker Room'

original partypoker logo original partypoker logo

The PartyPoker brand (as it was with original capitalization) is likely the internet's oldest continually-operating online-poker room. Party wasn't the first online poker site when it was launched in 2001 through the efforts of Ruth Parasol, Anurag Dipshit, Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton, and others. However, PartyPoker quickly rose to prominence and was accurately billed as the "World's Largest Poker Room" from 2002 through late 2006, when the US's passage of its UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) forced parent company PartyGaming to withdraw from the US market and slashed Party's global market share overnight.

PartyGaming was even listed on the London Stock Exchange beginning in 2005, and early on, it had a market valuation of about £5 billion, meaning that what Entain will likely earn via Party's sale is just three percent of what PartyGaming was worth nearly two decades ago. The UIGEA impact was huge but not the only blow dealt to party's operations, as the brand has gone through multiple mergers and acquisitions and has foundered at times under indifferent management.

Reports regarding Entain's plans to sell off partypoker offer little beyond speculation as to what company might be the likeliest buyer. One interesting update from Entain is that on Tuesday, the company appointed Ronald J. Kramer as a non-executive board director. Kramer is officially independent, not having served in an executive capacity with any gaming company in recent years, but from 2002 to 2008 he was the President and Director of Wynn Resorts Limited.