Dropped Poker Pots Fail to Dampen Record Year for 888 Holdings

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888 Holdings enjoyed a record year in 2018 despite online poker revenue taking a dive along with the group’s overall revenue.

888 Holdings Brian Mattingley
888 chairman Brian Mattingley (center) is pleased with the group’s recent financials and believes US expansion is imminent. (Image: europeangaming.eu)

Although overall revenue took a 2 percent hit last year, 888’s latest fiscal report shows an 11 percent uptick in adjusted pre-tax profit. Before adjustments, the operator’s pre-tax profits hit a record $108.7 million, up from $18.8 million in 2017.

Headwinds Can’t Blow 888 Off Course

With the March 12 report showing a marked increase in unadjusted pre-tax profit, 888 non-executive chairman Brian Mattingley said progress was encouraging.

Although he noted that “strong headwinds” in certain markets, including the UK, had increased costs, the chairman said the company is moving in the right direction.

Looking specifically at the US, Mattingley called the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) a “fundamental shift” in the market’s long-term outlook. What’s more, he remained confident despite the recent Wire Act opinion creating uncertainty.

“The Board believes that the Group remains well-positioned for future growth in the developing US market,” Mattingley said on March 12.

Although fortunes in the US have improved, 888 performed poorly in the poker department last year.

According to the report, online poker revenue fell by 37 percent to $49 million. As well as exciting several markets, including Poland and Australia, regulatory issues caused an 8 percent drop in the number of active poker players active on the network.

Poker Down but Not Out at 888

Although rake may be down, the company isn’t giving up on poker. In December, 888 announced it had acquired a majority stake in the All American Poker Network for $28 million.

In tandem with increasing US interests, the operator extended its relationship with the World Poker Tour (WPT). Benefiting from the pair’s existing partnership, 888 will enjoy increased exposure on British TV.

Under the terms of the February deal, broadcaster BT Sport will now show various WPT events, including those hosted in Europe alongside 888.

While falling poker profits may come as a concern for players, it’s not the only vertical to experience a loss.

Like online poker, bingo revenue also decreased in 2018. From a high of $39.3 million in 2017, the group raked just $32.4 million last year.

On the upside, the number of first-time depositors on the network increased by 21 percent, while total deposits were up by 10 percent. Although these newbies may not always migrate to poker, the potential is there.

What’s more, with 888 as a whole thriving, there’s a greater chance new innovations could be used to reinvigorate the poker network in the coming months.

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