It was announced yesterday that the Shuffle Master gaming company are to buy the Ongame poker network for €28.5 Million. The Ongame network was a subsidiary company of Party.bwin entertainment, who bought the brand in 2005 for a whopping £474 Million. The reduced price due for the most part to the passing of the UIGEA legislation in the United States in 2007 which effectively wiped out online poker there.
Ongame is the 6th largest poker network and still has a healthy user base, having recently acquired the player pool from Betfair poker who opted to join the network after being a stand alone provider for several years previous.
Shuffle Master is a Las Vegas based supplier of casino and poker equipment, most notably automatic card shuffling machines. The acquisition allows Shuffle Master to expand their online operations ahead of regulated online gaming in the USA. In fact, €10M of the purchase price is contingent on the return of the US to the online poker market within 5 years.
The Shuffle Master press release said:
“The acquisition of Ongame will provide Shuffle Master with world class poker software and an entire enterprise with proven skills and the operational experience that will permit us to begin immediately offering state-of-the-art B2B online products following the closing of the acquisition,” said Louis Castle. “We are very focused on creating greater value for our current and future customers and, as a result, our objective is to make Ongame the most comprehensive and competitive poker engine in the marketplace. We believe that Ongame’s first-to-market history of execution is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the growing online market in Europe and the potential legalization of online poker in the U.S.”
The future for the bwin poker product looks unclear now, as it seems unlikely that bwin.party will keep their poker players on the Ongame network when they no longer have ownership of it. A merging of the Party and bwin player pool has been touted for over a year, but still hasn’t come to pass