Online gambling company 888 Holdings PLC was up 16.4% on the London Stock Exchange on Monday market close, after confirming it has begun offering online poker liquidity to players in New Jersey in addition to Delaware and Nevada. Following the rollout, players from all three states can now compete for a cumulative jackpot through 888 or its partners and participated in joint tournaments.
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Gibraltar-headquartered 888 Holdings owns several online gambling brands, among them 888casino, 888poker, 888 Bingo and 888sport. The company was founded in 1997 by four Israeli entrepreneurs, and most of the company's 1,350 employees are based in Israel.
888 and several other online gambling operators were forced to withdraw from the U.S. market in 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was passed. When New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada softened their regulation regarding online gambling, 888 struck a deal with Caesars Interactive Entertainment Inc. to extend their U.K. software licensing agreement to the U.S. for the three states.
Delaware and Nevada have been sharing online poker liquidity since 2015, after creating the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA) in 2014 following several years of decreasing poker revenues. In October 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced the state will join the association.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme court struck down a 1992 federal law that prohibited sports gambling, with some exceptions, in all states except Nevada, bringing to end six years of court proceedings. The case began when New Jersey voters passed a constitutional amendment in favor of sports betting legalization, prompting the Legislature to repeal the law and be challenged in court.
888 offers only its poker and casino products in the U.S. For the interstate venture, 888 has partnered with WSOP.com (World Series of Poker), which is owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment., and with The Delaware Lottery and the All American Poker Network.
“The launch of the 888-powered interstate poker network is another significant milestone for the US i-gaming market," said 888 CEO Itai Frieberger in a statement. In its annual financial report published March, the company stated its poker revenues decreased 8% in 2017.
888 also stated in the report that it is considering a withdrawal from the German market, one of its core markets, as the country's six-year regulatory proceedings regarding gambling near a close and cut into its profit for 2017. Regulatory changes also caused 888 to record exceptional charges of US$50.8 million for the first half of 2017, mostly due to potential value added tax in Germany in relation to its pre-2015 German operations. Overall, despite reporting record revenues of $541.8 million and a 12% increase in adjusted EBITDA for 2017, of $100.7 million compared to $90.2 million in 2016, the company's unadjusted EBITA for 2017 was $41.2 million compared to $79.5.