Shuffle Master withdraw from Ongame deal (Updated)

Shuffle Master’s purchase of Ongame has been cancelled due to the supplier’s concerns regarding the economic climate in Europe.

It was announced in early March that the firm had entered into a “definitive agreement” to purchase the poker network from operators BwinParty for a total consideration of up to €20.5m, of which €10m was dependant on the future legalisation of real-money online poker in the US, but the agreement has now been terminated.

Shuffle Master chief executive Gavin Isaacs says that business conditions in Europe have “deteriorated” since the deal was first announced, meaning that Ongame’s operations post-acquisition “will not achieve the near-term results we initially expected and will require a larger ongoing investment than anticipated”.

He added that uncertainly surrounding the timing of the legalisation and rollout of legal online poker in the US was also a factor in the decision.

The cancellation of the deal threatens the recently-announced online gaming partnerships between Shuffle Master, Ongame and Bally Technologies, and Shuffle Master, Ongame and Aristocrat.

Describing the termination of discussions as mutual, a BwinParty statement said that the sale of surplus assets such as Ongame remained a “core part” of their strategy, and that they will be “re-engaging with other third parties” that have expressed an interest in acquiring Ongame, with a further announcement set to be made when appropriate.

BwinParty director of corporate communications John Shepherd told Gambling Insider that the termination of the discussions gave his company “no cause for concern”, despite the “naturally disappointing” outcome.

“We recognise that Ongame is still a world-leading poker network and that gives us confidence that re-engaging with our interested parties will bring about a satisfactory conclusion,” he added.

Shepherd also stated that there had been no regulatory problems relating to the breakdown of the deal, and that the two companies remained “good friends”.

“The mutual agreement in amicable,” he said. “This situation has been recognised from both sides as two highly professional companies dealing with this in a highly professional manner.”

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