Several major gaming companies have looked at purchasing bwin.party, and Amaya Gaming recently made a joint bid with GVC Holdings worth €1.5 billion to compete with 888’s undisclosed offer. Some of the potential benefits here are obvious because Amaya would add customer bases from partypoker, partycasino, bwin poker and the bwin sportsbook. However, there’s one underlying benefit here that isn’t immediately apparent, which we’ll discuss below.
Adding Bwin.Party would potentially get Amaya into the U.S.
For the past few years, Amaya’s chief asset, PokerStars, has been trying in vain to enter the American iGaming market. There have been several close calls, most notably in New Jersey, but we still find the world’s largest online poker site without a foothold in the U.S. The story has been the same in Nevada and New Jersey: PokerStars is a ‘bad actor’ that violated the 2006 UIGEA. Most claim anti-competition is the key behind Stars not getting into America, but that’s for another discussion.
All of this could soon be forgotten, though, if Amaya is able to purchase bwin.party entertainment. That’s because the latter’s poker site is currently partners with Boyd and MGM in the U.S. And if Amaya took over partypoker, they would then own a site that operates in New Jersey. It’s unclear what implications this would have for PokerStars, but we can only assume that their marketers would have some interesting ideas for partypoker. Furthermore, they might also have a better chance of avoiding the bad actor clause in California, which is still in the process of agreeing on an online poker bill.
Still a Bidding War taking place
Of course, everything that we’ve discussed so far is all hypothetical because 888 still has an offer on the table as well. The public doesn’t know what this bid is worth, or if it’s even competitive with the €1.5 billion that Amaya has offered. But 888 would certainly stand to benefit from adding bwin.party too, because they’d expand both their European and US-facing operations. And the fact that they would thwart an opportunity for their rival PokerStars to get into the U.S. certainly wouldn’t hurt matters either.
Whatever happens, it appears that, for the time being, Amaya/GVC and 888 are the only companies that are serious about acquiring bwin.party. Both Playtech and William Hill were interested, but they withdrew consideration without an offer. So it should be fun to see how the bidding war concludes in the near future.