In a recent article by a UK news publication the Sunday Times, the bwin.party-owned Ongame Network, which has been on the shopping block for the past year since the merger of Bwin and Party Poker, is poised to be sold US casino machine and slot manufacturer Shuffle Master. The report suggests the sale price may be for as little as €16 million.
Shuffle Master would not be the first gaming equipment manufacturer to purchase a European poker software network. Recently, IGT purchased the Entraction network. Shuffle Master has applied for a Nevada online gaming operator’s license and this may be part of the company’s future strategy in preparation of regulated internet gaming in the United States.
The Ongame network currently houses over 25 poker skins including BetFair, Betsson, BetSafe, and Hollywood Poker but the largest room when Americans were allowed to play was PokerRoom.com. The network is currently ranked as the 6th largest network in terms of size. Prior to the sale, it is expected that players on Bwin will be moved to the PartyPoker network, which would be expected to reduce the liquidity of Ongame by about 50%.
The Ongame Network was originally bought for €473 million and is expected to be sold for about €16 million. This is nothing new, the Paradise Poker network was also purchased in 2006 for $300 million by Sporting Bet who were forced to shut down the asset after the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act came into place soon after.