Bidding War Continues for World Poker Tour

The bidding war for the World Poker Tour and its parent entity, Allied Esports, has continued with the latest salvo, a $105 million bid from Ballys Entertainment. The offer, the second bid made by Ballys, comes just days after Allied had announced its preliminary approval of a $90.5 million all-cash offer made just days earlier by initial suitor Element Partners LLC.

By: Haley Hintze

In a statement, Allied Esports declared the Bally’s offer to be “superior”, just as it had declared an earlier Bally’s offer to be superior to a much lower $78.25 million opening offer made by Element Partners in January.

“There can be no assurance that the company will enter into a definitive agreement with Bally’s or consummate any transaction with Bally’s,” Allied’s statement added.

Allied Esports also announced that it would give Element Partners until 5 pm on Monday, March 29th, to put together a sweeter bid than the latest Bally’s offer. Both bidders are also monitoring a window of narrowing profitability. Allied, which includes the WPT and a small handful of other assets, currently holds a market valuation of roughly $120 million.

Whichever side’s bid emerges as the winner still needs official ratification from Allied’s shareholders. Bally’s willingness on both occasions to significantly up the price marks it as the likely winner. The company (not associated with the Bally’s Casino venues owned by Caesars Entertainment) is known for its scooping up of properties and business entities at below-market prices. Bally’s Entertainment owns a dozen venues itself, mostly in eastern US states.

The traveling-tour nature of the WPT has always made it a relatively lower-value property despite the brand’s immense recognition and history in the poker world, and the expanding legalization of online poker in the US may create a halo effect benefiting many well-known poker brands, perhaps explaining the increased interest in the WPT. The WPT has passed through numerous corporate hands since it was founded in 2002.

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