- Bally’s Corporation and Element Partners LLC have submitted competing bids to acquire the World Poker Tour brand from Allied Esports.
- Allied’s board has determined that Bally’s bid is the superior proposal.
- Element has the option to revise their bid to match or exceed Bally’s.
Bally’s Corporation (NYSE: BALY) might be the busiest of all US facing gaming operations at the moment. Every week since the first of the year has brought one or more news items involving the company formerly known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings. Just last week, for example, Bally’s was named an authorized betting partner of Major League Baseball, got temporary approval to offer mobile/online sports betting in Virginia and opened a new sportsbook at Bally’s Atlantic City in partnership with FanDuel.
Up next–they’re trying to add the World Poker Tour brand to their portfolio which has them in a bit of a complex situation involving esports entertainment company Allied Esports Entertainment (NASDAQ: AESE) and private equity fund Element Partners LLC. In January, Element had agreed to pay Allied $78.3 million for the WPT brand. That deal was expected to close at the end of March 2021. Bally’s got involved on March 8, when Allied announced that it had received an unsolicited acquisition offer for a total of $100 which would include the company’s esports business *and* the WPT brand. Obviously, that would require the cancellation of the Element sale. At the time, Allied’s board continued to recommend that stockholders approve the original deal with Element:
“The company’s Board of Directors, consistent with its duties and the company’s obligations under its existing agreement with Element, will evaluate Bally’s proposal in due course. The company and Element continue to discuss potential updates to the current terms of their agreement.”
Bally’s revised their offer to aquire only the World Poker Tour brand for $90 million USD in cash. Since this revision, Allied has done a 180 and now recommends that shareholders approve the deal with Bally’s. In addition:
The Company notified Element that it intends to terminate their stock purchase agreement unless, prior to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on March 19, 2021, the Company and Element negotiate an amendment to their pending stock purchase agreement such that the Bally’s revised proposal no longer constitutes a Superior Proposal.
The press release making the above quoted announcement also added:
There can be no assurance that the Company will enter into a definitive agreement with Bally’s or consummate any transaction with Bally’s.
No word yet on whether or not Element sweetened the deal by the 5:00 PM last Friday deadline. There had been some speculation that Bally’s was interested in picking up both the esports operation *and* the WPT. Esports has been exploding in popularity over the past decade as has betting on competitive events. It appears now that the rights to the WPT was the big prize–it would definitely be a nice unifying brand for all of Bally’s online poker platforms plus the televised events would be valuable for promoting all of the company’s gaming offerings particularly land based casinos.
At the time of publication, James Murphy has a long position in BALY.