888’s African adventure takes ‘critical step’ with BetLion acquisition


888 is looking to make further “significant” progress across the African continent after its part-owned 888AFRICA entity detailed the purchase of BetLion to accelerate “huge ambitions”.

The online casino and sports betting operator is currently licensed in Kenya, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is headquartered in Nairobi, the capital city of the former. This adds a further hub for 888AFRICA, building on an existing base in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Through the addition, 888 is expecting to drive further scale in the business, as well as deliver a notable number of new customers. BetLion counts more than three million registered users.

Robert Chirchir, MD of BetLion said: “888AFRICA is a business with huge ambitions on the continent. We’re delighted to be getting involved in its exciting growth journey, and supporting its expansion through our market-leading front-end software and platform and established licences across the region. 

“We look forward to working more closely with the team and continuing to delight customers with our joint offer.”

888AFRICA, a joint venture part-owned by 888 that operates the 888bet brand in the region, was founded in March 2022 and went live across Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia seven months later. 

Led by Christopher Coyne, ex-CEO of Goat Interactive and former CMO of The Stars Group, the entity is looking to “capitalise on growing demand and maximise growth opportunities”.

“This acquisition is a critical step as we aim to create truly unique betting and gaming experiences to players across Africa,” commented Coyne.

“The talent and technology at BetLion is perfectly suited to our growth model and ambitions, and will help to further strengthen our offering as we look to build market-leading positions across Africa. 

“We also look forward to working with our new colleagues and introducing new customers to our local brands.”

Last week, Per Widerström was named as Chief Executive Officer of 888, with the appointment to become effective as of October 16, 2023, and seeing Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn returning to the role of Non-Executive Chair.

This came after Itai Pazner became one of a number of high profile exits from the group earlier in the year, with the gambling business detailing that he was “immediately leaving office” as both CEO and a Director.