IN efforts to help with their publicity and promotion pursuits, PokerStars considered purchasing the NFL team New Orleans Saints.
It is publicly known fact that the NFL is highly lucrative business. Any company involved stands to make a massive turnover throughout their years associated with the elite football competition. Furthermore, the NFL is followed by millions of people so the marketing reach is immense, which made PokerStars consider making this strategic move.
After the devastation left over by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the owner of the Saints, Tom Benson, was willing to let go of the team for a staggering fee of $600 million. At the time the team was underperforming which propelled Benson to look for a buyer. This is where PokerStars came in as the potential new owners.
Nolan Dalla was among the people looking into the deal
• Nolan Dalla was Director of Communication at PokerStars
• Saints owner Benson demanded $600 million for the team
• Scheinberg decided against the move due to managerial problems
Nolan Dalla, a former employee at PokerStars, has vast experience in the online gaming and poker industry. He served as Director of Communication at the firm and states that they were in serious talks to take over the New Orleans Saints. However, a deal never materialized due to several important factors.
Nearly a decade ago, PokerStars was not the big poker giant it is today as it provides the best US poker rooms online. Its revenues were modest for a company its size, and it was struggling for recognition in the industry. Once the slot to become the owners of the Saints became open, the executives considered this an opportunity to boost their name and expand their overall reach.
Dalla was tasked with thinking of creative marketing ways of achieving their aim of closing the difference between them and rivals PartyPoker, which was the biggest gaming site at that time. He came up with the idea to buy the Saints, as they offered a great way for them to exercise their publicity pursuits.
Dalla recalls, “Even though the PokerStars site offered the best software and customer service in the business, the softer games over at PartyPoker made them nearly impossible to catch. Hell, even many of the PokerStars staff, myself included, played almost exclusively on PartyPoker.”
PokerStars considered the sporting activities of being owner
Despite focusing on the marketing aspects of the deal, reports suggest that PokerStars was not only viewing the team as a great channel to their potential customers. They were actually interested in the team itself and to become a real contender in the NFL, according to gambling news.
Dalla commented how at PokerStars they didn’t only want to concentrate their efforts on self-promotion and marketing, but had deeper motives. They wanted to create a name for themselves in the industry that would resound positively.
“We weren’t exactly Golden Palace, the gambling site that resorted to all kinds of shameless self-promotion. We had our standards. Given company founder and majority owner Isai Scheinberg’s highly competitive nature and drive to somehow surpass rival PartyPoker, we all knew such a leap would take something really huge to eclipse their massive numbers.”
The main reason why the deal didn’t go through was due to the head of the now poker giant, Scheinberg. Despite liking the idea initially and showing support for the plan, Scheinberg opted against the takeover of the Saints due to management issues and other headaches associated with running an NFL team.
The leadership of PokerStars was not ready to assume control of a business entity that was somewhat foreign to them, as it didn’t focus on gaming. Additionally, before being the biggest online poker site in the US, PokerStars, decided against getting that sort of mainstream exposure, and rather focused staying at their current level.
Dalla stated, “There was always the risk that with more scrutiny aimed our direction, we might become targets. We could even be shut down, which is precisely what happened – although that course of events didn’t fully go into effect until five years later when PokerStars was eventually forced out of the U.S. market entirely.”
Unfortunately for PokerStars, the New Orleans Saints managed to overturn their fortunes and become a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. One can only imagine what could have been had PokerStars taken their opportunity to over the team nearly a decade ago.