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Found 8 results

  1. We tend to think of online gambling as the Wild West, where mavericks build empires from humble offices, compete against each other, come up with the next big thing, and develop the next big marketing idea. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- That may have been the case when the internet poker gold rush was on about a decade ago, but according to Nathan Vardi of Forbes, those shaping the industry now aren't so much the logo-patch-on-a-polo-shirt type, but rather the three-piece-suit type. What the landscape of online gambling looks like in the years to come will have a lot to do with Wall Street and big finance. Vardi's piece is really a tale about how the battle for bwin.party has gotten to where it is today. The road to bwin.party's sale began about two years ago in September 2013, when Jason Ader, head of SpringOwl Asset Management, bought $100 million of bwin.party's stock from Ruth Parasol, founder of Party Gaming, and her ex-husband, Russ DeLeon. With the stock came a Board seat and Ader immediately began pushing buttons and pulling levers to get the Board arranged in a way he saw beneficial to the company. He also wanted to see bwin.party sold and was able to get the company on the market in the middle of 2014. Last June, Amaya Gaming bought PokerStars and Full Tilt Pokerfor $4.9 billion. That was way too much money for Amaya, a small company, to afford, so it enlisted Blackstone Group, the world's largest private equity firm, and BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, to pitch in. So now you had two of the gaming industry's revolutionaries, Parasol and Isai Scheinberg, out of the business, essentially replaced by gigantic financial firms. In the meantime, there was still a battle to be fought over bwin.party. GVC Holdings, a small online gambling firm, teamed up with Amaya to bid on bwin.party this year. 888 Holdings soon followed suit, backed by two more big banks, JP Morgan Chase and Barclays. 888 won the hand of bwin.party, as the two agreed to a $1.4 billion deal, but GVC wasn't done. It parted with Amaya and received the backing of Cerberus Capital Management to help sweeten the pot. Even with the increased offer, Vardi writes, it still looks like 888 is the front-runner, as GVC's new offer leans heavily on stock, which is naturally a riskier proposition for bwin.party shareholders than cash. Vardi summed up the changing landscape of the online gambling industry earlier in the article when he wrote: "These sorts of symbolic hand-offs have been reshaping the online gambling industry, moving it away from the bold risk-taking entrepreneurs who pioneered the business and putting new players in control… The transformation of online gambling is being driven by Wall Street and some of the biggest names in finance." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  2. The tug-of-war over bwin.party continues as GVC Holdings and 888 Holdings try to win the heart of their online gambling rival. 888 CEO Brian Mattingley (pictured) is both confident that his company will win the day and none too thrilled about the latest developments. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- About a month ago on July 9, GVC, which owns the internet sports book Sportingbet, paired up with PokerStarsand Full Tilt Pokerowner Amaya Gaming to present a 110 pence per share offer for bwin.party. 888, which had been trying to purchase bwin.party for some time, saw that it needed to do something in a hurry, so it offered a bit less – 104.09 pence per share – a week later. To the surprise of many, bwin.party accepted 888's offer over GVC's. Part of 888's pitch was that it shared many things in common with bwin.party such as office proximity, similarity between gaming units, and overlaps in licensing, all of which would make the transition easier. Additionally, it is thought that GVC and Amaya would have chopped up bwin.party after the transaction, with GVC taking control of bwin.party's sports betting and casino businesses and Amaya nabbing PartyPoker. This reportedly did not sit too well with bwin.party. On top of that, the rest of the industry would not have been overjoyed with Amaya owning PokerStars, Full Tilt, and PartyPoker. Thus, it was back to the drawing board for GVC. Last week, GVC took another swing, increasing its offer significantly, up to 122.5 pence per share. That put the value of the deal at just over £1 billion. GVC approached things a little differently this time as well, cutting Amaya Gaming out of the picture and instead securing a €400 million loan from Cerberus Capital Management to help finance the deal. As of now, bwin.party has not accepted GVC's new offer, so 888's is still the winner. Mattingley recently told the UK newspaper The Times that even though GVC has outbid his company twice, he feels very good about 888's chances: "We have rehearsed our strategy more times than we care to think of. We know how it's going to be done. I am confident this is doable with low-ish risk." He also reiterated that even if GVC's offer is more lucrative, 888 is simply the better fit, a notion that should not be brushed off. He explained, "I don't think it's only the quality of the paper… We know how to execute it and obtain the synergies. I think we have satisfied to the target company that we are a good, straightforward, honest, hard-working, and fit company to go forward. Our growth has not come just from doing wacky things in illegal territories; it has come from driving customers through our CRM and marketing campaign. The bwin.party board unanimously recommended our bid." Considering that bwin.party already accepted 888's lower bid and has yet to accept GVC's sweetened deal, it does sound like bwin.party is not just concerned about the money. It wants to go to a good home. 888's poker room, 888 Poker, is currently ranked second on PokerScout's cash game traffic chart with a seven-day average of 2,220 cash game players. PartyPoker is sixth with 1,050. Should 888 end up winning, the United States regulated market becomes more interesting, as 888 would essentially have a monopoly in the three states that allow online poker: Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. WSOP.com in Nevadauses 888's software, as do the three Delawareonline poker rooms. WSOP.com and 888 have combined forces in New Jersey, while the other competitor in the Garden State is the PartyPoker/Borgata Network, which, as you can tell, runs on the PartyPoker platform. If 888 buys bwin.party, that network would be under 888's control. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  3. Like two suitors standing below the window of a maiden they are attempting to woo, the love songs from GVC Holdings and 888 Holdings to bwin.party continue to grow louder. On Tuesday, bwin.party, the parent company of PartyPoker, confirmed that is has received a new acquisition proposal from 888 Holdings, just the latest in a string of competing proposals over the course of the past two months. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- Neither bwin.party nor 888 Holdings has revealed any of the financial details of the latest proposal, but rather have simply announced that the proposal has been made. From bwin.party: "Further to its announcement on 27 August regarding a proposal from GVC Holdings PLC ('GVC'), the Board of bwin.party ('bwin.party') confirms it has also now received a revised proposal from 888 Holdings plc. This revised proposal is subject to a number of preconditions (which can be waived in whole or in part by 888)." The company added, "The Board of bwin.party is evaluating this proposal, together with that received from GVC, and intends to consult with its key shareholders in the coming days before making a final determination as to which proposal is in the best interests of shareholders. A further announcement will be made in due course… The Board's unanimous recommendation of 888's offer, which was announced on 17 July 2015, remains unchanged by this announcement. Documentation in respect of this offer was posted to shareholders on 28 August 2015." While 888 has been going after bwin.party for some time, the real competition with GVC Holdings began in early July 2015. GVC was the first at bat, announcing a 110 pence per share offerfor bwin.party on July 9. With 824.25 million shares of bwin.party outstanding, that makes the offer worth approximately £907 million. One of the most interesting aspects of the proposal was that GVC was unable to afford it by itself, so it recruited Amaya Gaming, the owner of PokerStarsand Full Tilt, to get in on the deal. 888 countered, announcing on July 17 that it had proposed a 104.09 pence per share (£858 million) purchase price for bwin.party. Though that is lower than GVC's price, bwin.party's Board accepted it, recommending the deal to its shareholders. Both 888 and bwin.party cited a number of corporate synergies as the reason why this marriage was better than one with GVC. It is thought that needing Amaya in the mix created more financial uncertainty for the GVC deal. In addition, the prevailing notion was that GVC and Amaya were going to split up bwin.party, with Amaya taking PartyPoker and GVC taking the company's sports betting and casino operations, and that this made bwin.party's leaders bristle. On July 27, GVC announced that it had made another, richer, offer for bwin.party, increasing its price to 122.5 pence per share, or about £1 billion in total. Aside from the price, the big difference this time was that Amaya was out of the picture. GVC instead obtained a loan from Cerberus Capital Management to help finance the deal. The mention of the August 27 announcement in the above press release has to do with confirmation that bwin.party and GVC have continued to discuss a potential deal. Part of that announcement from bwin.party was as follows: "The Board of bwin.party confirms, further to its discussions with GVC Holdings PLC, that key aspects of GVC's proposal have now been addressed to bwin.party's satisfaction. bwin.party has now asked GVC to clarify, with respect to its proposal, the best terms on which GVC is prepared to make a formal offer to acquire all of the issued and to be issued shares in bwin.party." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  4. Last week, we reported that shareholders of bwin.party recommended that the company's Board of Directors approve a $1.4 billion acquisition by 888 Holdings, the parent company of 888 Poker. However, not refusing to lay down and die, GVC, which had been in a bidding war with 888, has upped the ante, reportedly bidding $1.6 billion for bwin.party. The roller-coaster ride might not be done yet. The offer might end the involvement of Amaya Gaming, the owners of PokerStarsand Full Tilt, as the $1.6 billion bid is from GVC and Cerberus Capital Management and does not involve Amaya. bwin.party cited less risk as a reason to roll with 888 rather than GVC already. If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details of the deal, it's worth 122.5 pence per share of bwin.party's stock, up from GVC's earlier offer of 110 pence. About a quarter of that would be given in cash and the rest would be in stock. As eGaming Review explained, "The improved offer would be financed through a combination of new GVC shares issued to bwin.party shareholders and €400m provided by affiliates of New York-based Cerberus Capital Management, which is also a part-owner of Gala Coral. GVC would also raise £150m through an equity placement of new GVC shares, which would be used for restructuring costs and to finance bwin.party's current debt." GVC and Amaya had previously submitted an offer of $1.41 billion, but bwin.party elected to go with 888's slightly lower offer instead. As far as the latest GVC bid goes, one analyst told Reuters, "This is a real statement of intent from GVC. The proposed premium over the accepted offer by 888 is such that the bwin.party Board will probably have no choice but to reconsider its acceptance of the 888 offer. We would be surprised if 888 does not come back with a counter-offer of its own." There have been a bundle of mergers and acquisitions in our industry as of late, including Betsson buying Europe-Bet and Ladbrokes merging with Gala Coral. GVC owns Sportingbet. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  5. It appears the long, drawn-out battle for bwin.party is over. On Friday, it was announced that the company's board had unanimously approved a $1.7 billion offer from GVC Holdings, the owners of Sportingbet. bwin.party is the parent company of PartyPoker and bwin, among other brands. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- According to eGaming Review, the deal will likely close in the first quarter of 2016 and will "result in €125 million worth of revenue and cost synergies and create a platform which would provide 'further consolidation opportunities.'" The acquisition was valued at 130 pence per share. bwin.party's board originally accepted an offer from 888 Holdings, the owners of 888 Poker, before a drama-filled few weeks that saw GVC up its bid, dump its original partner in the deal in Amaya Gaming, and ultimately come out on top. The final offer by 888 Holdings was 115 pence per share. If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details of the deal, according to EGR, "bwin.party shareholders will receive 25 pence in cash and 0.231 new GVC shares for each bwin.party share held, although a mix-and-match facility will be made available for those that would prefer to vary the proportion of cash and paper. The majority paper deal will mean bwin.party shareholders will assume 66.6% of the combined firm." It doesn't look like 888, whose shareholders have been on a roller-coaster ride with the acquisition, will be submitting a better bid, as a statement from the company read, "The 888 board has concluded that, as a result of its own extensive due diligence on bwin.party, it cannot see sufficient value in bwin.party to warrant a revision to its offer. Consequently, 888 confirms that it is no longer in discussions regarding the acquisition of bwin.party." Winner: GVC. GVC CEO Kenneth Alexander told EGR in a separate article, "The hard work starts now… It's going to be challenging work but also fun work and, potentially, lucrative work… The large group will combine the very best talent GVC and bwin have. There are a lot of very talented people and I've been impressed by the bwin people I've met so far, so there will be lots of opportunities for employees on both sides of the business." EGR added that GVC will migrate Sportingbet to bwin.party's platform and said that the company could divest its poker product. In case you're wondering, by the way, why there was such a lengthy battle for bwin.party, the Wall Street Journal explained the allure of the European gaming giant: "[bwin.party] owns much of its own technology and has strong brands across several product verticals, most notably sports betting, where bwin is well recognized globally." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  6. It’s finally official. The weeks of rumors have finally been put to rest as PokerStars is scheduled to put their platform to the real money test on Monday, November 4 and will become the first online operator to offer online poker in Pennsylvania. For PokerStars, the soft launch testing period should take two days before it is officially approved. Once it is, poker players in the Keystone State can get back to their online grind. For a little while at least, PokerStars will be the only operator in Pennsylvania. However, it is just a matter of time before they have competition for the nearly 13 million potential players in PA. Here's a look at the online poker operators that could be next to join PokerStars in the Pennsylvania market. [ptable zone="NJ Online Poker Promos"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"] WSOP.com One of the most obvious choices to do battle with PokerStars is Caesars Entertainment’s online arm of the World Series of Poker, WSOP.com. Currently the leading online poker room in New Jersey, WSOP.com is powered by 888 software and partnered with Harrah’s Philadelphia, another property of Caesars. World Series of Poker officials have remained tight-lipped about their plans on entering Pennsylvania. When they do, it should only be a two-day testing process for them based on the fact that they already have up-and-running online sites elsewhere in the U.S. WSOP.com would bring a number of exciting opportunities for players in Pennsylvania. Undoubtedly, the ability to satellite into live World Series of Poker bracelet events would be a significant draw, especially in the summer months leading up to the Main Event. In addition to their satellites, WSOP.com offers its own online poker series with big guarantees including seasonal Online Championships as well as Online Circuit Events where players can win an actual ring. Party Poker partypoker’s parent company, GVC, has a deal in place with Valley Forge Casino Resort that would bring the well-known poker brand to PA. Like WSOP.com, partypoker already has a presence in New Jersey, where it shares a player pool with BorgataPoker.com and BetMGM.com. This means that whenever they decide to schedule a soft launch period, it too will only require two days of testing. Going live in Pennsylvania looks to be a piece to a larger puzzle for partypoker. Earlier this year, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved partypoker for an online poker license in Nevada. Currently, there is only one operator in Nevada, WSOP.com. The low population of three million makes it tough for the market to support multiple online poker sites. If partypoker has its sights set on taking over the #1 spot in the U.S. they would need to leverage the same multi-state compact that bolstered WSOP.com. At the same time, they will be looking forward to a time when Pennsylvania may also join the states that have legalized and regulated online poker. Dark Horses partypoker and WSOP.com are two of the most recognizable brands in poker today. But inside the state of Pennsylvania, there are some very popular poker entities that could decide to enter the market. Parx Casino is well-known for its massive Big Stax tournaments and large live poker room. They have also paid the steep $10 million fee to be able to offer online gaming. They are already offering sports betting and online casino games. Should the market warrant it, Parx could leverage their brand to expand into online poker. Rush Street Gaming is the owners of SugarHouse and their interactive arm could bring online poker to PA. Rush Street is already well-known in the poker scene with its televised live cash game Poker Night In America.
  7. After a flurry of bids, 888 Holdingswon the battle to buy rival bwin.party on Friday. The price: $1.4 billion in a cash and stock deal. 888 won out over a similarly-priced joint bid by GVC and Amaya, the latter of which already owns PokerStars and Full Tilt. 888 head Brian Mattingley told Reuters, "We believe the deal creates one of the world's leading online gaming operators. It's all about scale... When you've got critical mass, you can ride storms and take advantage of opportunities as they come along." According to the New York Times, "The transaction is expected to increase the scale of 888 Holdings and its products and to generate at least $70 million in annual pretax cost savings by the end of 2018." bwin.party shareholders will receive 39.45 pence in cash per share and 0.404 new 888 shares. bwin.party actually turned down a slightly richer bid from GVC/Amaya, but as Reuters explained, "While lower than the 110 pence face value of GVC's rival offer, bwin said it carried fewer risks, with better prospects and an experienced management team all factors." 888's stock price was up over 10% in London at the time of writing to 177 pence, a gain of 17 pence on the day. Meanwhile, bwin.party's stock was up 2.3% to 105.3 pence. Global Poker Index head Alex Dreyfus called 888's purchase "a great move," adding, "It will still be four to times times smaller than PokerStars in terms of liquidity, but it gives a proper foundation to reinvest in marketing." In New Jersey, PartyPoker/Borgata and 888/WSOP represent the two largest poker networks that exist. 888 buying bwin.party could therefore result in added liquidity. Dreyfus pointed out, "Merging the liquidity/platform should allow [888] to create a very solid alternative offer against PokerStars' 2016 New Jersey launch." Dreyfus added that GVC/Amaya losing the war for bwin.party may actually prove beneficial to the company: "The PartyPoker integration would have been a distraction for Amaya/PokerStars and very much time/resource-consuming. I believe it is better to have them focusing on growing poker and launching DFS than integrating a third brand." Philip Yea, Chairman of bwin.party, commented in a news release, "Bringing our two groups together will generate substantial financial synergies for the benefit of both sets of shareholders and create a strong player with the breadth of product, brands, and geographic coverage to grow faster than either business would be able to achieve stand-alone. Drawing upon a wealth of experience accumulated over the past few years, our management team looks forward to working with new colleagues to realize the considerable potential that this business combination presents." Mattingly (pictured) said in the same release, "It delivers a substantial premium to bwin.party shareholders whilst also giving them the opportunity to participate in this value creation opportunity. 888's management have a well-established track record of delivering outperformance since 2011 and we look forward to working with our new colleagues to create a global leader." According to PokerScout, 888 and PartyPoker's dot-com arms are the second and seventh largest networks worldwide in terms of cash game traffic with a seven-day running average of 3,537 real money ring game players combined. When you add in the various country-specific sites, that number jumps to 4,569, or roughly 12% of the market. Amaya buying bwin.party would have pushed that company's market share to almost 65%. As it stands, PokerStars and Full Tilt hold almost a 60% share. Again, these numbers are all according to PokerScout. One week ago, GVC/Amaya put in its own bid of $1.4 billion for bwin.party. The deal would have given Amaya a foothold into the US, where PokerStars and Full Tilt have struggled to reenter following Black Friday, in the form of PartyPoker in New Jersey. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  8. According to media outlets in both the mainstream and the gaming community, Luxembourg-based GVC Holdings and the Canadian company Amaya Gaming are jointly trying to acquire what was once the largest gaming company in the industry, bwin.party. GVC and Amaya have put up a bid of €1.5 billion, which will come from cash from Amaya and stock shares from GVC. If successful, it would be the second largest merger of companies behind only Amaya's purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt. If GVC and Amaya were to purchase of bwin.party, the duo would probably break the company up for each side's particular interests. Amaya, looking to expand beyond its purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker just last year, is looking for a good sports book to add to its growing roster of gaming products. GVC, which already acquired Sportingbet in 2013, is simply looking for more inroads into the bookmaking industry. If they were able to complete the deal, GVC would keep a major portion of the bwin.party properties, with Amaya holding an option to purchase the poker and sports book operations. The GVC/Amaya bid comes on the heels of another stunner in the online gaming world that jump-started their efforts at acquiring bwin.party. On Monday, 888 Holdings confirmed it had put together a takeover proposal for bwin.party, looking to become the kingpin of the online gaming world by passing Amaya Gaming. The 888 offer would also be made up of cash and stock shares, but no price was disclosed. In an official press release on Monday, 888 Holdings admitted that not only was the company looking to acquire bwin.party, but it also already had approval from its shareholders. The Board of Directors for 888 said that there was an "industrial logic" in combining the 888 and bwin.party platforms and that it would "benefit both companies" to merge. Citing the size of the transaction, the Board also said that 59% of those holding shares in 888 had "committed" to the purchase of bwin.party. Talk of bwin.party being open for a merger or an outright purchase have been rampant since last year. In November, bwin.party confirmed that there had been discussions with "a number of interested parties"for either a merger or an acquisition of the company. bwin.party even went to the length of hiring Deutsche Bank to handle the offers that the company had been receiving. At that time, such companies as Playtechand William Hill were rumored to be in the running to take over bwin.party. If either 888 Holdings or the GVC/Amaya partnership were to take over bwin.party, the effects on the online gaming and poker world would be seismic. 888, already recognized as one of the biggest online sports book operations in the world with a solid online poker outlet, would gain the powerful online poker platform built previously by bwin.party as well as a wealth of other online casino gaming options. On the downside, 888 itself has been the target of takeover attempts in the recent past, including advances from Ladbrokes and a £720 million offer from William Hill earlier this year. If Amaya were to take over the operations of bwin.party and absorb them into the PokerStars/Full Tilt fold, it would give them a near monopoly in the online poker business, something that regulators could take a long look at in extending licenses. Quick math suggests that a PokerStars/Full Tilt/PartyPoker triumvirate would have more action that the next 22 busiest online poker sites combined. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
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