888 makes bid for sports betting independence via BetBright deal


888-betbright-sports-betting-platform-dealUK-listed online gambling operator 888 Holdings has boosted its long-term sports betting prospects by acquiring Dublin-based BetBright’s sports betting technology platform.

On Monday, 888 informed investors that it had struck a £15m deal with BetBright’s parent companies Dedsert Ltd and Dedsert (Ireland) Ltd to acquire the operator’s sports betting platform. The acquisition includes BetBright’s Dublin office and its risk management, product and trading staff, which will be integrated into the 888 group.

888sport’s current betting platform is supplied by tech providers Kambi, who have been working with 888 since May 2013. Most recently, Kambi launched 888’s New Jersey-licensed sports betting service.

888’s BetBright release didn’t mention Kambi, but 888 did say that it would begin the technology integration process as “soon as practically feasible” and would begin a “phased and market-by-market roll out” of its new proprietary betting product once that integration is complete.

While the addition of BetBright will eventually allow 888 to eliminate royalty payments to Kambi, the costs associated with the technology integration are expected to weigh the company down in the short term. Investors appeared to agree, as 888’s shares fell nearly 2% at the close on Monday’s trading.

The addition of an in-house sports betting product gives 888 complete ownership of most of its product offering (casino, sports, poker and bingo). The company’s board maintains that this independence will allow 888 to “fully leverage its marketing and analytics capabilities, scale and unique expertise.”

888 CEO Itai Pazner called BetBright’s platform “the missing piece in our proprietary product and technology portfolio.” Pazner praised BetBright’s “fantastic” workforce and predicted they would “significantly strengthen 888’s sports betting expertise and industry know-how.”

The BetBright deal follows just weeks after 888 paid £18m to acquire a portfolio of online bingo brands, including Costa Bingo, from UK-listed JPJ (JackpotJoy) Group. The brands had previously operated via 888’s Dragonfish bingo platform and will now be run on a B2C basis.

Last December, 888 spent $28m to take full ownership in the All American Poker Network joint venture, although the potential of this deal was called into question one month later following the US Department of Justice’s new opinion on the Wire Act, which poses a particular challenge to interstate online poker operations.

888 is scheduled to announce its Q4 and FY18 financial results on March 12. In December, 888 issued a trading update that said it expects its earnings to come in as previously forecast and that “the initial positive trends in revenue” in the company’s H1 report had “continued over the second half of the financial year so far.”