Chinese Consortium Nabs Caesars’ Playtika in $4.4 Billion Deal

August 1st, 2016 | by Brian Corlisse
Jack Ma behind CIE Playtika deal.

The founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, is part of a consortium that’s acquired Caesars’ social gaming arm. (Image: vulcanpost.com)

The social gaming arm of Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), Playtika, has been purchased by a Chinese consortium for $4.4 billion.

CIE is owned by Caesars Acquisition Co and Caesars Entertainment Corp. and currently offers free-play gaming apps such as Slotomania (via Playtika), the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the real money poker platform, WSOP.com.

However, following the due diligence process and completion of the necessary paperwork, the all cash deal will see the following companies assume control of Playtika:

  • Shanghai Giant Network Technology
  • Yunfeng Capital (a private equity firm founded by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.)
  • China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd
  • China Minsheng Trust Co. Ltd
  • CDH China HF Holdings Company Limited
  • Hony Capital Fund

No WSOP for Consortium

However, while the deal will see the consortium assume control of a major player in the social gaming arena, it won’t own any of CIE’s real money gaming assets.

“CIE’s World Series of Poker and real-money online gaming businesses will not be included in the transaction, and the virtual currency used on the Playtika platform will continue not to be exchangeable for real money,” reads the official press release.

While there is certainly a possibility this deal could benefit the consortium in the long run if gambling is every regulated in China, there could still be some immediate benefits for the iGaming industry.

Is Poker’s Future in China?

As noted by Alex Dreyfus on Facebook, the deal is the latest acquisition of a western entertainment company by a Chinese entity.

In addition to Dreyfus’ Global Poker League attracting financial backing from China, the UFC and the WPT have recently been purchased by Chinese companies.

The WPT deal in particular saw Beijing’s Ourgame purchase the WPT for $35 million in a move that will surely see the brand gain more traction within the Asian market.

Naturally, each specific deal will have its own merit, but Dreyfus believes it could be part of a much larger power shift within the entertainment industry.

“Entertainment industry => China. #‎future #‎pokertainment,” Dreyfus wrote on Facebook.

The entrepreneur has long touted the virtues of turning poker events into entertainment spectacles and this latest wave of acquisitions by Chinese companies could be a step closer to this reality.

In fact, while the impact of the Playtika deal on the poker community is still unclear, it could certainly help to boost the profile of gambling (albeit for fun) in China.

If this happens, it would then give events such as the Global Poker League a much larger fan base to exploit in the coming months and years.

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