According to CNN Money, there is a potential deal being offered for sponsorship of the Canadian Poker Tour or an outright purchase of the organization by an unnamed online poker company. Poker News Daily has been in contact with Kelly Kellner, Chief Executive Officer of Heads Up Entertainment International, which owns the tour and other poker-related entities, and has been able to confirm that there is an offer on the table.
In the CNN Money article, Kellner was quoted as saying, “For competitive reasons, the online poker company wishes to go unnamed at this time. As the online poker market becomes more competitive, our brand name and our market become more and more valuable. As a result of these negotiations, the numbers here can get very large, very quickly.” Heads Up Entertainment has built the Canadian Poker Tour to encompass over 50 casinos across Canada and also reached into the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and cruise ships on the high seas of the Caribbean. In total, Heads Up Entertainment provides over 600 casino-based poker events through its partnerships.
In a discussion with Poker News Daily, Kellner stated that the offer was something that he knew would be coming. “Was it out of the blue? Yes and no,” Kellner said in an exclusive interview with Poker News Daily. “We have always figured that the Canadian Poker Tour would be an attractive candidate for acquisition by someone. The management here at Heads Up Entertainment has realized that, with our development of our relationships with casinos and our building of the CPT brand and our other poker outlets such as Canadian Poker Player Magazine and Canadian Poker Player Television, we might be on track for something like this in 18 months to two years.”
“When we started discussing the idea in more depth on Friday with this online poker outlet,” Kellner continued, “we realized that it was happening way before we thought it would.” The CNN Money article states that Heads Up Entertainment, through the ownership of the Canadian Poker Tour, Canadian Poker Player Magazine, and the recently launched Canadian Poker Player Television, has the ability to reach over 40 million people across the North American landscape.
Last year, the former ownership of the World Poker Tour (WPT), World Poker Tour Enterprises, sold the eight year old company to the online gaming giant Party Gaming for $12.3 million. While that was a sizeable amount, WPT management turned down a reported $36.5 million offer from Mandalay Media prior to accepting the Party Gaming offer. The potential discussions by Heads Up Entertainment and the unnamed online poker outlet could lead to another such battle.
Kellner, while not disclosing the online company who could become the potential sponsor or new owner of the Canadian Poker Tour, stated that the deal being discussed was “well into the seven-figure range.” He offered no timetable for the Tour regarding this proposal and indicated that, at this moment, the company was preparing for the next installment of the Canadian Open Poker Championships this fall. In the past, the tournament has featured such popular Canadian players as Gavin Smith and Brad “Yukon” Booth and other top professionals such as Phil Hellmuth, Joe Hachem, Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly and Antonio Esfandiari. Kellner also stated that the popular Canadian Heads Up Championship (an event won in 2008 by former World Champion and 2009 National Heads Up Poker Championship winner Huck Seed), will be back on the schedule this year.
As of press time, there have been no details released regarding the potential deal for the Tour. “We have built the CPT and other parts of the company through offering the best of everything to our players, from tournament structures to other tournaments and cash games to entertainment outside of our events,” Kellner stated. “We certainly hope that is maintained by the entity that has made the offer to us if,” Kellner emphasized, “we decide to accept the offer.” (Credit: Poker News Daily)
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