The World Poker Tour has signed a seven year promotional licensing agreement with Ourgame International, an online game developer based in China. The deal will expand an ongoing relationship between the two companies, and will allow Ourgame the right to use WPT branding and logos in over a dozen different Asian nations.
Ourgame will have the exclusive rights to the WPT brand in 14 nations, including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Thailand and the Philippines. They will also have the non-exclusive right to use the brand in Japan.
The WPT and Ourgame have previously worked together to bring tournament poker to mainland China, in the form of the WPT National China events that have been held in the country over the last three years. The partnership will now allow some WPT events to be live streamed throughout the region starting in 2015. Ourgame will also bring free and social online games with WPT branding to Asia.
“The World Poker Tour has worked hard to expand its footprint throughout Asian territories over the last few years with much success,” said WPT Presiednt Adam Pliska. “A big part of this success was based on our strong working partnership with Ourgame, who established WPT National China at MGM Grand Sanya.”
Pliska also praised Ourgame as a valuable partner in the Asian market.
“Ourgame has proven to be exactly the sort of business ally we seek; a credible group of visionaries with incredible strategic leverage and a true commitment to the long-term growth of poker,” Pliska said. “By working with Ourgame to expand the WPT brand in Asia, we are assuring that the recent strong growth of the WPT in the region will continue for many years to come.”
The WPT and Ourgame were able to bring a WPT-branded live poker tournament to China despite the strict ban on gambling in the country thanks in part to the popularity of another form of the game, known as tractor poker, in the nation. In 2007, the WPT successfully negotiated for the rights to air the National Tractor Poker Tournament on television. When traditional poker began to explode in Macau, interest in games like Texas Hold’em increased on the mainland as well, and the WPT was able to persuade Chinese authorities to switch the format of the tournament to no-limit hold’em starting in 2012.
For Ourgame CEO Frank Ng, the partnership is a natural one for their company, which is looking to expand their reach beyond China to all of Asia.
“As China’s leading card and board game platform, we are very pleased to have found a great global partner in the World Poker Tour, as we start to expand from China to Asia,” Ng said. “The WPT is a true global leader in organizing world-class poker events around the globe, and we share a common vision of promoting poker as a genuine mind sport.”
While specific details of the partnership won’t be known until some time early next year, the value of the deal for both sides may well depend on how gambling (and poker) expands throughout the continent. For instance, having Japan as part of the licensing agreement could be quite lucrative, but the failure to approve a casino bill in time to build a resort before the 2020 Olympics could limit what Ourgame and the WPT will be able to do in the country.