Rumors are circulating that European online gambling company bwin is lining up a bid for the World Poker Tour. The ailing TV show has seen its stock plummet over the last few years thanks to the passing of the UIGEA. bwin is an Austrian based firm with gambling interest all across Europe. They recently made the headlines after closing the 10 year old PokerRoom.com due to low player traffic.
What is certain is that WPT chiefs have circulated important confidential data to prospective buyers, as WPT CEO Steve Lipscomb recently confessed to the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve had discussions with, and exchanged documents with, some companies that have expressed an interest.”
The WPT has spent the last year in a precarious financial position. The NASDAQ stock exchange threatened to delist them unless they could haul their share price back above $1.00. After hemorrhaging cash for the past two years, the last quarter finally yielded some positive results for the company and the price of their stock once again climbed above $1.00.
Their prospective purchaser, bwin, has an extremely strong presence in Europe but a relatively small profile in the US. Whether they plan to build the WPT brand in Europe or use it to promote themselves in the US is currently unclear. A number of online gambling sites have increased their US marketing in the past few months, in hopes that the UIGEA is on the way out. The WPT has seen a marked increase in the number of international events it hosts, with new tournaments popping up around the world every few months.
The anonymous source who named bwin as the favorite to purchase the WPT claim that bwin is looking to increase the amount of poker coverage they offer their customers. They want to incorporate live streaming into their website and bolster their already very strong sports profile. bwin is a prominent sports betting company and is the official sponsor of soccer giants Real Madrid and AC Milan. The Portuguese soccer league has been known as the bwinLIGA since 2005.
The only previous contact between the two companies occurred recently when bwin negotiated a deal to let Italian customers bet on a WPT event in Venice. Although WPT officials are refusing to confirm that the company is up for sale, it is also rumoured that online poker behemoths PokerStars and Full Tilt have expressed interest. Both companies have sponsored the WPT in the past, and are the two leading poker providers in the US.