888 Holdings may not have seen explosive growth in their poker sector, but holding steady was enough for the company to establish itself as the second-largest poker operator in the world (albeit by a very wide margin behind Amaya).
According to the company’s annual financial results that were released on Tuesday, 888’s poker revenues were essentially flat, coming in at $93.7 million in 2014 compared to a nearly identical $93.6 million in 2013.
But in a relatively tough year for online poker, just holding on to what the company already had was a nice result for a brand that has quickly become a major player in Europe and the emerging regulated online poker markets in the United States.
“Our core casino product delivered another outstanding performance reflecting out strength and heritage in this vertical, while 888Poker cemented its position at number two in the PokerScout global rankings at year end,” said 888 Holdings CEO Brian Mattingley. “The outstanding 115-percent revenue growth from 888Sport was an undoubted highlight of 2014 and we continue to see very exciting growth opportunities in this vertical.”
888 Emerges From Back as Second-Largest Online Poker Site
When it comes to Internet poker traffic, there’s only one undisputed leader: PokerStars. According to current figures from PokerScout, PokerStars has averaged over 18,000 real money cash game players at any given time over the past week, with a peak of nearly 30,000 players.
But 888poker has become the clear number two in the rankings, emerging ahead of what is still a crowded second-tier of sites like Bodog, Full Tilt, PartyPoker and the iPoker Network.
PokerScout currently puts 888poker’s seven-day cash game traffic average at 2,500 players. That’s far ahead of both Bodog and iPoker, which average around 1,800.
And that doesn’t take into consideration some of 888’s segregated markets, such as the site they operate in Spain or their operations in conjunction with Caesars in the United States. Those USA operations should get a boost shortly, as 888-powered sites in Nevada and Delaware have just now begun to share traffic.
Overall Revenues Up in “Record-Breaking Year”
Overall, revenues for 888 bounced up 14 percent to $454.7 million in 2014. Casino revenue was up by 16 percent, while bingo and sports betting also saw increases. Business-to-business operations were also a big growth area, with revenues up 32 percent for the year.
“2014 was another record-breaking year for 888 during which we again delivered strong growth in revenue and profitability,” Mattingley said.
That great year led to an increase in stock prices on Tuesday, as well as a special dividend of 7 cents per share for investors. Mattingley also said that 888 might be looking to make acquisitions to further their strong growth in the future, a somewhat surprising announcement from a firm that was close to a deal to be purchased by William Hill last month.
“We are constantly appraising opportunities,” Mattingley told Reuters.
Mattingley also admitted that 2015 could be a challenging year, but said that he believes 888 can handle them.
“Whilst the business faces external challenges in the form of Point of Consumption Tax in the UK, VAT in certain jurisdictions and adverse foreign exchange movement from a strong dollar, I am confident that the Group is well placed to take advantage of opportunities that regulatory change opens up to companies such as 888,” he said.