Mediarex Sports & Entertainment (MSE), the parent company of the Global Poker Index (GPI) has secured $4.9m (€4.45m) in Series A funding from a round of private investors to finance its Sportify Poker initiative.
The money will help GPO to launch the Global Poker League (GPL) – poker’s first professional league – in 2016 in the US and European markets. GPL will be the next phase of development following GPI’s maiden live poker competition, the Global Poker Masters – Poker’s World Cup. The Global Poker Masters drew nearly one million unique viewers in March 2015.
The Series A funding will help MSE to use in-house production facilities to deliver streamed poker video content and television and live broadcasts of events such as the GPL and World Cup. The investors include a first tier private equity fund in Beijing and angel investors from telecom, sports marketing and financial sectors in Asia and Europe. MSE chief executive Alex Dreyfus believes China offers huge potential for poker’s future expansion.
“China will likely be the epicentre of the next poker boom and this time the boom looks to be powered by eSports, the video game, media and sports industries,” Dreyfus said. “Thanks to our new investors we’ll be able to reach new strategic partnerships in China to help develop the sport of poker there, creating a domino effect that has globally positive effects.”
GPI currently controls the largest live poker event and player results database, www.thehendonmob.com, as well as the European Poker Awards, the American Poker Awards and both ceremonies’ adjacent Poker Conferences. It plans to introduce an Asian equivalent in 2016.
MSE’s Global Poker Index is the official ranking system for poker’s largest franchises such as the World Series of Poker, the European Poker Tour and Asia-Pacific Poker Tour.
Dreyfus added: “Poker is an old game, but a young industry. It’s a game that continues to grow too. Poker’s global growth from 2012 and 2013 was 17 per cent, as well as a 9.4 per cent increase in 2014 live competition entries. Digital interest in the game continues to grow as well – up 12 per cent in 2013, 25 per cent in 2014 and 31 per cent in the first half of 2015. It's a large audience and the best way to aggregate it is to promote poker like a sport.”