One of the gambling industry’s top companies has just sold off its entire bingo operation. So what does this mean for the gaming world?
The enormous and influential 888 Holdings group has agreed to sell its bingo division, including some of the most popular and modern online bingo games.
The buyer of this digital gaming empire is Saphalata Holdings, which has paid £38 million (US$50m) for the bingo businesses. Saphalata is part of the Broadway Gaming Group.
Broadway are certainly less well known than the sellers. The 888 Group has grown since 1997 to become one of the biggest and best-known names in the gaming industry.
The parent company of the gambling operations, 888 Holdings PLC, is a public company listed on the London stock exchange. It is important enough to be chosen as one the FTSE 250 Index companies.
The company is registered in Gibraltar. It operates familiar online gambling brands, including 888sport, 888casino and 888poker.
The business was founded 25 years ago by two sets of brothers, all Israeli entrepreneurs. The HQ was moved to Gibraltar in 2003.
The familiar 888casino operation is perhaps the group’s best-known brand. It is one of the oldest casino sites on the internet.
In fact, the 888casino site was the first exclusively online casino to be officially licensed in the USA, back in 2013.
Transition to online gambling has driven 888’s bingo division as one of the most profitable departments.
The 888 group had also grown to become a big name in online bingo. It has reported impressive financial results from its bingo operations in recent years.
This comes after the popularity of online and mobile gaming has soared in recent years. But the size and variety of the group’s operations appear to have prompted the sale of the profitable bingo division.
The company is believed to be trying to reduce the challenge of maintaining strict compliance with varied and changeable regulations in different international markets. With such a wide-ranging portfolio of gaming opportunities this was a major task for an operation of the size of 888 Holdings.
Each area of 888’s operation was facing the complexity of running customer accounts that must comply with differing regulations. Simplifying the range of the operation is a strategic way of dealing with these administrative problems.
The group is considered a market leader in the gaming world and industry experts will be following the progress of this deal closely. The 888 Group has grown quickly and demonstrated profitable and responsible management within a changing industry.
The big bingo sell-off has alerted industry watchers to the challenges of complying across a wide range of gambling operations. The industry verdict is that 888 is making a sensible move to concentrate on its core businesses.
For 888 Holdings this means focussing on highly profitable brands in casinos, betting and poker. That’s why the group’s Chief Executive Officer Itai Pazner has described the sale as “strategic”.
Pazner says the bingo sale will allow 888 to increasingly focus on its core platforms. This will make it easier for the group to use unified, scalable, and proprietary technology.
Without the problems of running the bingo empire, the group will be able to “grow our key product verticals of casino, sport and poker,” he says. Nevertheless, he adds: “We continue in our mission to be one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming businesses.”
Pazner took the opportunity to praise the 888 bingo business. He said it was “an important part of 888s history.” Pazner says that the bingo business still has a very bright future ahead.
The bingo sale to Broadway Gaming comes despite 888 Holdings announcing impressive trading performance figures in recent years. Industry watchers report that its bingo operations have appeared to be very profitable.
The group’s bingo stable includes a strong range of online brands, including 90 and 75-ball bingo games. The brands do not require downloads by the players and feature an emphasis on chat rooms and community atmosphere.
The holding group’s bingo divisions are mostly UK-based and reported around $65million of revenue in 2020 alone. Those figures include underlying earnings of $7.4million.
The new deal with Broadway will also involve 888 handing over the technology, administration and consumer brands. The larger group will be supporting the transfer with business advice and know-how to make the hand-over go seamlessly for players. This support is expected to last for at least a year.
So who is the buyer of this big online bingo empire? Saphalata Holdings has paid £38m (US$50), which could rise by another £3m ($4m) depending on performance of the brands.
Saphalata is an Irish-based company. It is part of the larger Broadway Gaming group, which has headquarters in Dublin.
Although not nearly as well known as 888, Broadway does already specialise in online bingo operations. Its current internet bingo games are run under names like Glossy Bingo, Dotty Bingo, Butlers Bingo, Rehab Bingo and Bingo Diamond.
The purchase is expected to boost the future of the Irish bingo group. Meanwhile industry experts are expecting 888 Holding’s success to continue despite the sale.
The 888 story has been one of impressive growth and that is expected to continue. The online and mobile boom in the gambling industry shows no sign of abating.
The liberalisation of gambling restrictions internationally is apparently likely to continue and will only help the fortunes of 888. The UK gaming group is expected to perform even better when it is able concentrate more strategically on its core operations of online casinos, sports betting, and poker.