888 Holdings are one of the market leading gaming and casino organisations in the UK. Operating from Gibraltar, 888 offer sports, casino, poker and even bingo through partner sites like Wink Bingo. With year on year growth that exceeded expectations in 2017, and what looks like another good year ahead, 888 are enjoying sustained success in a tough market.
The history of 888
Founded by Israeli brothers Avi and Aaron Shaked in 1997, Virtual Holdings Limited began life in the British Virgin Islands, where it’s first online casino service, Casino-on-Net, was successfully released. In the same year, operations were opened in Antigua, with all servers, support functions and payment staff based on the Island.
The idea of 888 Holdings was born out of a trip to Monaco, when Aaron, who was at the time a dentist, attended a convention that included a trip to the Casino de Monte Carlo. Aaron realised the potential of bringing the excitement of gambling online, and decided that he and his brother should invest in technology, rather than pursuing dentistry.
After successfully setting up operations, Virtual Holdings established Random Logic Limited, to provide research and development into new virtual casino products, with the new venture Reef Club Casino launched in 2002 following customer-based research. After further growth, the brand moved operations to Gibraltar, and in 2005, it was listed on the London stock exchange. Although certain brands and subsidiaries were brought under the ‘888’ umbrella in 2006, it wasn’t until 2010 that the 888 brand as it exists today got its look and feel.
Now 888 Holdings offer a wide range of casino classics through their 888casino brand, whole-market sports betting through 888 Sport, online poker through 888 Poker, and Bingo through their Wink Bingo, Tasty Bingo, Posh Bingo, Red Bus Bingo and Bingostreet gaming brands. Casino income makes up roughly 61% of revenue, Sport 11%, Poker 18% and Bingo 9%.
An established brand
With a share price topping 302.00p and 2016 revenues of $520 million, the brand has gone from brainchild to industry heavyweight, now the sixth biggest overall gambling provider in the UK, including companies with physical gambling locations.
The real secret behind 888 Holdings’ success isn’t really a secret either. Alongside the usual exceptional customer service, fast payouts and a commitment to safe, responsible and of course exciting gambling, 888 are at the absolute cutting edge when it comes to game design and the variety of options on offer to customers.
The 888 Poker brand in particular, which competes in an exceptionally tough market, has become one of the leading premium poker brands in the UK through a mixture of strategies. As well as launching a superb app in 2017 when the Google and Apple stores finally decided to let online gambling companies share their apps with the world, 888 have been at the forefront of poker enhancement and development since the 888 Poker brand was launched. As well as well-designed 3D tables that make gameplay smooth and efficient, customers also have the option to get a bit closer to the action.
Live Casino, which is designed to combat the fact that playing online lacks the human element that makes casinos popular in the first place, brings professional dealers straight to 888 users’ phones, tablets or computers via live streaming. With games played in real-time, the experience feels a lot closer to the real thing and shows just how forward thinking just the poker brand has become.
The future for 888 Holdings looks extremely promising too. The recent releases into the Spanish and Italian markets have proven very successful and the next annual report for financial year 2017 should look equally as positive as 2016. The big opportunity at the doorstep however is the United States.
888 were the first online casino to operate in the US, with offerings fist available to citizens in New Jersey and Nevada, the first two states to declare the legality of online. It has certainly been rocky since then however, especially in 2006 when US Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. With ongoing legislation arguments and a federal / national battle currently raging over the legality of virtual gambling in the US as a whole, the future could look a lot different for the entire country if Donald Trump makes any moves to legalise gambling.
The ex-casino magnate has a track record with gambling big-wigs, and could potentially be the president to finally draw a clear picture for the nation when it comes to gambling. The grey areas and outdated laws need reform, and a man who once owned an entire casino and resorts company could be the one to finally do it.
This would be big news for 888, who already have experience of the American market, as well as the extremely strong product offering to maintain momentum. This will certainly be in the sights of 888 management, and it would be surprising if a US strategy isn’t already in place.
The other huge area for potential is actually the UK gambling market. The UK industry has traditionally been dominated by high street bookmakers and bingo halls, arcades and eventually city centre casinos, but this is all changing very rapidly. Thanks to smart phones and tablets making the internet a lot more accessible on the go, companies like 888 have been able to offer something that physical locations just can’t; 24 hour gaming.
From the commute to the work lunch break, players can now gamble anywhere, and this means increased profits and overall market share. The Gambling Commission’s figures recommend that online gambling companies now possess 34% of the entire UK gambling industry, year on year growth of almost 2%. If this rate continues, then that means a lot of traditional gamblers making the move to mobile, creating even bigger opportunities in already fast-changing industry.
The formula for success
Although there are plenty of reasons for sustained success, the real foundation behind all of it is an established brand that provides a good service. Gamblers want to be able to place their bets with minimal waiting time and admin, and plenty of support if something does go wrong. The customer service and industry rewards picked by 888 throughout their existence just prove how premium their service actually.
With a mixture of innovation, quality, good service and of course a fun experience, the 888 success story is one that will definitely continue. With plenty of upcoming opportunities as well as an established market presence, the company makes not only a good investment but also a great selection of websites for a bit of fun!