Momentum has been widely commended by 888 as a crucial component to recent successes, with a “significant ramp up” in its US operations set to continue with further deployments throughout the year as the operator strives to execute against its strategic plan.
The comments come from Yaniv Sherman, SVP and head of the US at 888, who also confirmed quotes made by CEO Itai Pazner to Bloomberg last month, which suggested that the group is exploring a potential public listing as it looks at ways to further tap into the US market.
“This isn’t media speculation – our CEO stated openly that is definitely part of our strategic direction, but how and when we do is still to be determined, and part of our overall company and US strategy,” Sherman commented.
Last month, the online betting and gaming firm heaped praise on a “landmark year,” as it scored record levels of revenue and adjusted EBITDA amid “significant strategic progress”.
The digital gambling group reported revenue of $849.7m, a 51.6 per cent increase from the prior year’s $560.3m, with adjusted EBITDA up 69 per cent to $155.6m (2019: $92.1m), and profit before tax down 41.1 per cent from $45.3m to $26.7m.
The group’s B2C business, made up of casino, sports, poker, and bingo, rose 53.5 per cent to $814.3m (2019: $530.5m), with the former of those taking the lion’s share, rising 63.3 per cent to $586.8m (2019: $359.3m). 888 puts this down to the result of added investment, which brought an enhanced suite of content.
Sherman said of the major contributing factors: “We entered 2020 with strong momentum, having just concluded our best acquisition year in 2019 with over one million new members and growth around our casino and sport verticals.
“Growing any vertical in the UK nowadays should be considered an achievement”
“Obviously the global pandemic has accelerated what looks like a structural shift from retail to online, so the heightened activity levels through the second and third quarters translated into a tailwind which translated to even higher growth trend.”
On delivering growth across the aforementioned four core B2C divisions, he added: “It was extremely satisfying, especially considering the challenges this year brought, with all of our global sites working from home for the majority of the year. The 888 DNA really shined through.”
In delivering its latest trading update, 888 said that, despite B2C bingo delivering growth, of 9.9 per cent to $42.3m (2019: $38.5m), the increasingly strict regulatory atmosphere combined with limited growth opportunity in its main market, the UK, led to an increased focus on other product and geographic opportunities.
“Bingo and our overall UK business was no exception as far as outperforming our peers,” Sherman commented on the division, as well as the UK region in general.
“Growing any vertical in the UK nowadays should be considered an achievement, and we did so because we embrace regulation and responsible gaming as opposed to treating it as a threat. Your ability to operate under such conditions becomes a differentiator and a competitive edge.”
The US possibilities, particularly regarding 888, have been widely documented on CasinoBeats thus far in 2021, however, it perhaps comes as little surprise that attention turns to the jurisdiction once more when looking at the period that lies ahead.
After the US was again pinpointed for particular praise regarding its significant potential, Sherman closes the discussion by touching upon what the immediate future holds in the country for the company: “2020 and 2021 mark a significant ramp up in our US focus and investments, with additional market access deals, a major platform overhaul and extending our strategic relationship with Caesars and WSOP.
“This investment is expected to deliver a return this year and into the next few years, as we further expand our product and commercial footprint into more and more states.
“We aim to deploy Poker8 and our Spectate proprietary sportsbook later this year, which should further enable us to execute against our strategic plan in the US.”