World Poker Tour Up For Sale Reports Wall Street Journal

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World Poker Tour

The Wall Street Journal on Monday featured a story that claimed "It was a good bet that the World Poker Tour is up for Sale". 

"We can't comment... beyond saying we've provided confidential data to third parties," chief financial officer Tom Flahie told me last week.

Chief executive Steve Lipscomb, in the offshore gambling haven of Gibraltar last week for unspecified industry talks, went further. "We've had discussions with, and exchanged documents with, some companies that have expressed an interest," he said from his cell phone.

Sounds like it, Brett Arends of WSJ.com writes:  

World Poker Tour depends on sponsorship for its TV programs. Lipscomb says, when he talks to potential sponsors, "The inevitable question when someone is about to pay you $3 million, or $4 million, or $5 million, is (for them) to look and say, 'Why don't I just buy your company?'"

From the WSJ.com:

"It's a long comedown for a company that was once valued at half a billion dollars and revolutionized TV poker. Even critics concede Steve Lipscomb and the World Poker Tour played a key role in creating the poker boom. They launched the tour -- a series of high-stakes tournaments in various cities -- back in 2003. The key invention was the so-called "hole cam," a camera that let TV viewers see the players' hidden or "hole" cards during the betting.

"In 2005, at the height, the stock hit $26 and poker legend Doyle Brunson was rumored to be mulling a $700 million bid.

"What went wrong? Critics say the World Poker Tour was swamped on TV by too many copycats. Meanwhile it never found a way to convert its brand name into a reliable revenue stream. Even selling WPT-branded products didn't work: Online casinos give away many of the same things for free.

"Company mistakes didn't help -- from a failed venture in China to letting costs get out of control. From 2004 to 2008 overhead trebled to $22 million while revenues, after a brief boom, fell backwards.

Yet while WPT has struggled, the worldwide poker boom has gone from strength to strength."

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