Thursday, January 04, 2007

PartyGaming Buys Empire Poker, Noble Poker; Signs Deal with Playtech

PartyGaming, LLC, parent company of erstwhile online poker giant PartyPoker, stayed busy over the New Year's period by announcing several deals. First, Party confirmed two acquisitions, absorbing (in true Borg style) the last remnants of one-time leading skin Empire Poker in a deal valued at $40 million. Then, Party switched its attention to a competing poker network and picked up Intercontinental Online, the parent company of Noble Poker, one of the leading sites on the Playtech network, formerly iPoker.

Party's new relationship with Playtech didn't stop there. In another deal announced in the last 24 hours, Party and Playtech have reached an agreement that not only continues the software agreement between the Playtech network and the now-Party-owned skins, but announces new plans for online rooms serving the Asian market.

Interesting stuff. Both sides of this deal --- Party and Playtech --- pick up cross-marketing opportunites due to the deal, but Party has also definitely put itself into a leveraged postion to buy out Playtech at some future date. That might be fine for Playtech, but should such a situation ever occur, it would then put the other Playtech skins in a situation not dissimilar to what Party's own skins faced a couple of years back, and that lead to the demise of Empire.

Playtech's been quite an active player in recent months itself. Playtech, you'll remember, picked up the vast Tribeca/Tain network, featuring dozens of mostly low-profile sites but with a few gems in the collection. Between that and Playtech's own lineup, the sites that now find themselves in at least an arm's-length relationship with Party include CD Poker, Titan Poker, Doyle's Room, Paddy Power and Parbet... and about a hundred others.

In any event, Party's been busy. Now if they'll only get around to updating that logo.

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