The WPT sold for $78 million, but what happens next?

Jon Pill
Posted on: January 20, 2021 04:33 PST

Allied Esports Entertainment is in the process of selling their ownership of the WPT and related IP. They announced the sale in a short low-key speech tweeted as a video attachment on the @WPT account.

In the video, Adam Pliska, the WPT's CEO, explained the current state of the sale from beneath his magnificent lockdown hairdo. In the video, he is keen to stress the deal is not yet complete, so details are limited.

However, the tweet also provided a link to a press release that added more words if not a lot more information.

The buyer, Element Partners, LLC, is a private investment company and has paid $78 million for the WPT brand. The seller, AESE, gets $68 million upfront. They also get 5% of the revenue from WPT branded tourneys on Element's gaming platforms up to a further $10 million.

Looking forward to a new era for the WPT, Pliska said, “I want to thank Frank Ng and the entire AESE management team for its support in allowing WPT to flourish during this period.  My management team and I are excited about this next chapter and the tremendous new opportunities for the WPT brand and business.”

What next for the WPT?

Frank Ng, CEO of AESE, said, “Despite the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WPT business has delivered substantial, impactful results, specifically through its online platforms and services, and has made meaningful contributions for the Company. [...] We believe the forthcoming sale of the WPT business will garner significant capital and an avenue to determine new opportunities.”

Those opportunities will no longer lie in the field of poker though. With the WPT gone, AESE aims to focus on its eSports business streams instead.

Meanwhile, the WPT is likely to continue with business as usual under its new masters at Element Partners. That is, assuming there is such a thing as business as usual in these unprecedented times.

The brand has had a massive boost this year. The COVID online poker boom lifted the value of its online poker assets. And by adopting the online model early, it avoided many of the costs incurred by other brands. Consider the vast amount of money the WSOP wasted on marketing and logistics for events that were never going to happen.

This year is likely to see a slow and partial return to the live events that made the WPT famous. Though without the reliability of regular events, it seems likely that streamed content will remain key to the brand's business. COVID may well have managed to do what PokerGO has been trying to do for three years: kill broadcast TV poker.

The new poker landscape leaves Pliska and Element Partners a lot of room to maneuver once the ink on this deal is dry. It will be exciting to see what comes next.

Featured image source: Flickr