888 acquires Costa Bingo for £18m


888 – listed officially as 888 Holdings PLC on the stock market — have been operating since 1997 and are one of the most popular online gaming entertainment providers in the world. One of the secrets to their success is their focus on the customer. It’s just not about gambling; it’s about entertainment. By localising their games into the customers’ languages and allowing them to play and gamble in a safe, secure environment. Coupling this with innovative gaming technology has enabled 888 to move to the forefront of the industry — and it’s where they’ve stayed ever since.

Structuring and expanding 888

The structure of the Group follows two lines of business: B2C, under the different 888 brands, and B2B, via Dragonfish. Through its B2B line, partners have a platform to establish themselves firmly on the online gaming scene and monetise their own brands. Thanks to this business structure, 888 can harness its product, marketing, technological and analytical strengths and achieve maximum benefits across both the B2C and the B2B routes to the market.

888 Casino

One of 888’s biggest brands is 888 Casino. Players online can enjoy some of the thrills of a real casino and play games such as blackjack, slots and the casino classic, roulette. Part of the brand’s success in the market has been down to its constant innovation and business deals as it seeks to constantly expand its offering for players. Recently, the brand teamed up with software supplier Red Tiger to add new slots to its portfolio.

888 Sport

Offering a comfortable, convenient way of betting, 888 Sport breaks away from the traditional type of bookies. Live betting and regular deals — such as free betting on football and other sports — have also helped it to gain its strong foothold in the market. Then there are business deals that have reinforced the brand and allowed it to stay on top of the game, including the extension of the partnership with Kambi, enabling them to access to the company’s Sportsbook and technology.

888 Poker

888 Poker is a brand the holding company devotes specially to poker. Players can revel in fast-fold poker, cash games, sit-and-go poker and tournaments. Of course, just like the other brands, you can download an app for the brand and play on the move, which makes it even more accessible.

As with the other brands, 888 works constantly on expanding to establish itself even more firmly in the market. In December 2018, 888 assumed the rights to full control of its joint venture All American Poker Network when it bought up the remaining 53% of the shares in the network. The purpose of the original venture was to bring its B2C products to the US market. Mergers and acquisitions occur regularly within the gambling industry and earlier this year, the holding company bolstered its technological prowess by purchasing the platform of the Irish sports betting company Betbright.

Making a play for bingo

One of 888’s other major money spinners has been its foray into the bingo world. In 2009, the company hit the headlines when it acquired Wink Bingo for just short of £60 million. The purchase was a strategic one to widen the company’s footprint in the online gambling market and, with Wink Bingo owning the networks Posh Bingo and Fabulous Bingo, has turned out to be wise one.

The giant keeps on expanding and growing ever stronger in the industry, thanks to its deal with Costa Bingo, which was previously owned by the Jackpot Joy (JPJ) Group. The deal, which the two groups struck in February, sees 888 hand over £18 million in cash for their new purchase. They’re paying £12 million upfront and then JPJ can look forward to the other £6 million in September.

The deal frees up JPJ to concentrate on the UK market, their single-brand strategy and returns on investment in the strategy. Meanwhile, 888 will have the chance to consolidate its current B2C portfolio with not just Costa Bingo, but two additional brands: Sing Bingo and City Bingo. The acquisition could spell further good news for players, who may receive the opportunity to wager or play for bigger prizes if 888 do away with Costa’s no deposit bonus

New leadership

Perhaps one of the biggest reflections of 888’s desire to expand has been the change in leadership at the company. Towards the end of January 2019, CEO Itai Frieberger stepped down from the position with immediate effect but agreed to remain as a director at the company for the following 12 months to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Former COO Itai Pazner, who has been at the company for 17 years and worked successfully with Mr Frieberger, filled his colleague’s shoes.

It would seem 888 has passed between equally capable hands. Despite an increase in taxation and stronger regulation of online gambling, the group was still able to announce a climb in profits at the end of the first quarter. The current CEO attributed the growth the group had experienced across various regulated markets to the momentum it had achieved in sport and casino.

888 is a big name already, but the company’s drive to expand means you’re likely to hear a lot more of it. The more they expand, the more opportunities for fans across the globe to keep playing the games they love and follow their passion for online gaming.

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