Las Vegas-based casino equipment maker Shuffle Master has agreed to buy online poker software provider Ongame Network for €19.5 million, with up to €10 million in additional payments depending on whether or not online poker is legalized in the US in the next five years.
Shuffle Master is purchasing Ongame from bwin.party, as bwin acquired Ongame back in late 2005 for nearly $600 million and the poker network operator was considered a surplus asset after bwin and PartyGaming merged in 2011.
The deal is slated to close no later than nine months from the annoucement, with CEO Gavin Isaacs of Shuffle Master having the following to say:
"I am confident that Ongame will fit seamlessly into our ongoing interactive initiatives of delivering our renowned brands to online gaming operators, partner websites, social networks, and mobile platforms. This acquisition is further evidence of our great momentum as we continue to execute on our core businesses and pursue our strategic objectives for future growth."
Ongame operates a poker network that dozens of online gambling sites license in order to offer customers the chance to play in poker cash games and tournaments. The Ongame Network is currently the fifth largest poker site in the world, although it's expected to drop significantly when bwin follows through with plans ot move its poker players to PartyPoker.
The deal is the latest in a flurry of activity that has seen various brick-and-mortar gambling companies look to bolster their online rpesence and capabilities, with Bally agreeing to buy the B2B platform of ChiliGaming and Caesar's and others agreeing to joint ventures and partnerships with online operators.
Some of the moves are due to rekindled hopes that legal online poker will become available in the US within a year or two, as more and more states such as Nevada, New Jersey, and California continue to introduce legislation that could see them offer intra-state online poker sites for state residents.