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Poker News: July 15th, 2009

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HEADLINE: Online Casino Operator bwin Considers Buying World Poker Tour

World Poker Tour officials have confirmed that they have provided company data to unnamed parties interested in acquiring the brand and the accompanying series of televised poker showdowns. While neither side would comment, whispers in the online casino community is that bwin, the Internet gambling operator, may be at the top of the list of interested bidders.

"We've had discussions with, and exchanged documents with, some companies that have expressed an interest," WPT CEO Steve Lipscomb told the Wall Street Journal.  But further details were not forthcoming, as chief financial officer Tom Flahie stated, "We can't comment beyond saying we've provided confidential data to third parties."

The WPT finally finished in the black last quarter after over two years of losing money. And the current value for the entire business is a few percent of the $500 million at which it was once valued, making it a prime target for acquisition.

Lipscomb told the Journal, "It's not for sale. But of course everything is always for sale."

The current format has proved problematic, as copycats proliferated, leaving a multitude of indistinguishable poker shows across the band of cable channels. And critics say Lipscomb and his subordinates made costly decisions, including a failure to keep costs under control.

But the move could be right for other investors, whether it be bwin, another Internet casino, or even a television network. Online gambling operators could use the brand name to capture a large part of the US online poker market, if and when the barney Frank bill passes.

Such a move would help counter the expected play by Harrah's to rush the online poker world with the World Series of Poker brand when US laws are changed. And television broadcasters could provide their own programming, without having to pay the WPT to provide it.

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Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on July 15th, 2009

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