888 asserts that it stands on the brink of a “productive and successful” year ahead, with a number of noteworthy developments undertaken during the previous 12 month period anticipated to bring significant success.
Arguably chief among those is the imminent business diversification that is due to come to fruition during this year’s second quarter, when its much discussed £2.2bn deal with Caesars Entertainment for the non-US business of William Hill enters completion.
The deal represented some interesting business by US gaming giant Caesars, which only bought the group in April 2021 for £2.9bn. This disposal means that it essentially acquired the firm’s US assets for £700m, seeing the group gain further ground in a market where 888 also has its sights firmly set.
“From partnering with Sports Illustrated to launching our products in three new states, 2021 was a massive step forward for 888 in our US growth plans,” explains John Atkinson, director of business development at 888.
“Not to mention our William Hill acquisition globally. All this sets 888 up for a productive and successful 2022.
“For SI Sportsbook, we launched in Colorado at the start of the NFL season. The product has been well received with positive customer feedback from players across the state.
“The 888, Sports Illustrated, and Authentic Brands Group teams have also been hard at work connecting media with sports betting through integrated content and social.
“…but in order for igaming to really grow, it needs to be approved in more states”
“We look forward to engaging with users in new ways and bringing SI Sportsbook to new states in 2022 starting with Virginia where we were recently awarded a license.”
With poker also representing another noteworthy vertical within which the gambling firm has high US hopes: “For WSOP, 888 will bring the WSOP platform to two new states with Pennsylvania now live and Michigan launching imminently. This will bring the total number of WSOP states to five,” Atkinson continues.
“With shared liquidity being a key differentiator in the poker market, we aim to keep growing the number of members in the compact in 2022.”
It isn’t just new states within the online poker world that is causing such optimism for Atkinson and 888, with “Arizona launching, Florida launching and then backtracking, and states like New York, Ohio, and Louisiana all set to launch in 2022” bringing yet more hope within digital wagering and online casino.
“Another noteworthy trend is that the investment market is starting to look for operators’ path to profitability. This change might have been earlier than some expected,” he adds on the most notable developments of the past 12 months.
Amid reflections comes the almost inevitable predictions, and Atkinson is clear on where the key lies with it comes to the growth of igaming across the US through 2022. That being legislation.
“Sports betting is opening up in states much faster than igaming due to sports betting receiving wider support from professional leagues and other groups of influence.
“Igaming has shown to be very successful in states where it has been approved but in order for igaming to really grow, it needs to be approved in more states. New Jersey is a great example of how successful a market can become if sports betting, igaming, and poker are all regulated.”
“To date, it has been a race to go live with product quality taking the back seat to speed to market”
Building upon this previous line of enquiry, Atkinson continues by looking at how 888 will look to capitalise as online casino continues to be legalised across further US jurisdictions, in addition to touching upon the importance of first mover advantage.
“888 is a global igaming leader with an industry leading product and an in-house content studio, operating under the Section8 brand. This positions us extremely well to capitalise as igaming opens up across the US. 888 will be very proactive as new markets emerge.
“For sports betting, first to market has provided operators with a first-time depositor boost. However, we’re also seeing that users – especially casual bettors – in new markets take some time to familiarise themselves with the offerings.
“I would expect being first to market for igaming to provide a similar boost. However, if igaming enters into a state where sports betting is already live, the impact of a ‘first mover’ state may be lessened as users may have built up brand loyalty to a certain sportsbook/casino brand.”
As we end the conversation, and in-keeping with what has lay beforehand, Atkinson concludes by touching upon what will be the key trends across US igaming through 2022?
“In 2022, companies will begin to see product as way to not only stand out from other competitors but also acquire and retain customers,” he closes.
“To date, it has been a race to go live with product quality taking the back seat to speed to market. As the US industry matures, we will start to see products that are truly unique and Americanised.
“The integration of betting and casino into media products will be one area of focus as operators look to reach a wider audience of casual fans and create stickiness with their product.”