PartyGaming's decision to acquire the World Poker Tour has positioned the company with a vehicle that will help the company re-enter the U.S. market once the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is repealed.
Considered one of the top stories of the year by many members of the media, this unique partnership brings together two former industry giants looking to reposition themselves to move forward in the future.
According to a recent PartyGaming statement, the pick-up made sense because it believes the strength of the PartyPoker brand will help propel the tournament series back to the forefront of the industry and give it a strong international presence outside of the cyber universe.
No matter how you look at it, Party's acquisition of a tour enables it to complete with other tour-dedicated operators such as PokerStars, and the World Series Of Poker, which is crucial if it hopes to survive over the long run.
This move makes sense for several reasons, but arguably the most important result of this deal is that it gives Party a foothold in U.S. Having left the market once the UIGEA came into effect, Party is the biggest non-U.S. site looking to re-enter this highly profitable sector.
Adding the international WPT will go a long way to help Party re-enter the U.S. market. If an online poker site wants to survive in today's consolidating market, it needs to have a land-based presence that will help bring players and revenue to the site. The WPT fills this role for PartyGaming.
Party's decision to pick up the WPT also gives the company a new promotional platform that will help attract to and retain players at the site. Considering that other online sites promote land-based tournaments via satellite tournaments on their Web sites, Party needed to acquire a wing that would let it do the same if it wanted to remain competitive. In other words, Party will use its branding power to strengthen the WPT in the same manner that PokerStars does for its plethora of tours.
The third reason Party's acquisition of the WPT made sense is that the WPT is an established entity with television deals in place. It would have taken Party a long time to start its own tour if it hadn't picked up the WPT, and in this tough economic climate, there is no guarantee that something else would have worked. The WPT is a well-known brand and although it may have struggled in recent years, it could easily rebound to the show's previous prestige levels if Party can bring players to the events, which will in turn increase the size of the prize pools and bring much-needed attention to the company and the sport.
In the end, Party's WPT pick-up is a monster move that positions the fourth-largest poker site to take on the big boys once it is allowed back into the U.S. market. Considering how successful the site was prior to the UIGEA, Party should have no problem finding runners to help strengthen the WPT, which looks as though it will give the company a flagship brand that should help bolster its financial value for years to come.