888 ends 2020 with record gambling revenue, massive ad spending in Spain


Online gambling operator 888 Holdings closed out 2020 by shattering revenue records while spending some of that revenue on a major advertising push to Spain’s online gamblers.

On Thursday, the UK-listed 888 issued a trading update in which the company said it finished 2020 on a high note, posting new all-time monthly records for both revenue and active customer numbers in the month of December. 888 investors largely shrugged, pushing the stock down 1.3% by Thursday’s close.

The news builds on the company’s previous market update in the first week of December, in which 888 projected its full-year revenue to be 45% ahead of 2019’s US$560.3m. 888 said Thursday that its FY20 revenue and earnings are now forecast to come in “moderately ahead of its prior expectations.”

888 said that while the current year had started with “good momentum,” it was “mindful of possible headwinds” in certain markets. Said jurisdictions likely include Germany, which is mulling harsh new taxes ahead of its regulated online gambling market launch this summer, as well as Spain, which will start enforcing its draconian new advertising and sponsorship rules this spring.

Speaking of Spanish advertising, the latest report from market researchers Arce Media-Auditsa show 888’s online casino was the single biggest internet advertiser in Spain during the month of December. The gaming & betting sector ranked third last month among Spain’s online advertisers with a 11.4% share, while 888 Casino all by itself was responsible for nearly 7% of local internet advertising investment.

To put that in perspective, the second- and third-highest online ad spenders were automakers Volkswagen (4.7%) and telecom giant Movistar (3.8%). Online betting operator Bet365 was the next biggest gambling ad buyer, accounting for just over 2% of the total.

The most recent market report from Spain’s online gambling regulator showed operators dramatically hiking their marketing spending in the third quarter of 2020, with advertising budgets tripling from Q2. 888 may have online advertising company in the coming months as other Spanish licensees try to snag as many new customers as possible ahead of their enforced radio silence.