888 Inks Online Gaming Extension with Delaware Lottery, Preserving Interstate Poker Network

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Poker players in Delaware will continue to enjoy games against their compatriots in Nevada and New Jersey as online gambling firm 888 extended its contract with the Delaware Lottery for another two years.

888 Delaware online poker
888 will continue to deal virtual cards in Delaware after extending its deal with the Delaware Lottery through at least 2022. (Image: 888poker.com)

Delaware has contracted its online gaming services to 888 since 2013, including poker and casino games.

Interstate Play Combats Poker Liquidity Issues

From the beginning of that partnership, it was clear that Delaware was too small to support significant online poker activity on its own. That revelation led to an agreement with Nevada in 2014 to pool liquidity for online poker in the two states. New Jersey joined the interstate compact in 2017.

“888 has been a valued partner since the Delaware Lottery launched its pioneering iGaming offering through the websites of Delaware’s three casinos,” Delaware Lottery director Vernon Kirk said in a statement. “In another first, 888’s poker platform enabled the Delaware/Nevada/New Jersey Multi-State Internet Gaming Association to offer peer-to-peer poker liquidity and further enhance the player experience across all three jurisdictions.”

The interstate compact hasn’t exactly made online poker a big winner for the state. While Delaware saw its revenue increase during the COVID-19 shutdown, online poker earnings have yet to break six figures in the state. Delaware pulled in less than $94,000 for the month of May, though that still represented 329% growth compared to the same month in 2019.

Today, the interstate compact allows 888 and World Series of Poker branded sites to pool players in all three states, and the combination has created the largest multistate poker platform in the United States. That’s not saying much, however: the three-state network is averaging about 280 cash game players at any given time, a number that should come up slightly during the online World Series of Poker.

Delaware enjoys slightly better overall online gaming revenues, though the numbers are still small compared to larger states like New Jersey. In May, Delaware took in $1.1 million in revenue from the 888 online gaming platform, up 261.8% year-over-year.

888: Poker Revenue Offsetting Sports Betting Struggles

Overall, 888 Holdings has reported strong revenues worldwide for its online poker operations this year, though it hasn’t released specific information in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s a major change from expectations at the end of 2019 when 888 CEO Itai Pazner predicted that “challenging” market conditions would continue this year. However, online poker turned into one of the few areas of strength for the company as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the sports betting industry.

“There is currently evidence of increased customer activity in the Group’s casino and poker products that might, in part, compensate for the sports betting disruption for a period of time,” 888 reported in its COVID-19 Trading Update released in March.

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