Famous UK sportsbook William Hill is now owned by US gaming giant Caesars Entertainment. Ireland’s Flutter Entertainment is the parent company of FanDuel as the biggest legal sportsbook in the US market.
Strategic alliances between overseas gaming operations and US-based companies are becoming rather common these days in the legal US sports betting industry.
The latest agreement is between the UK gambling firm 888 Holdings Plc and the sports media property Sports Illustrated. Under the terms of the deal, 888 will offer legal sports betting in the US under the Sports Illustrated brand name. This is not necessarily related to their own brand, which will be the SI Sportsbook.
Based in London, 888 will gain exclusive rights to the brand in exchange for an undisclosed licensing fee. Authentic Brands Group is the parent company of Sports Illustrated (SI). It will also receive a passive minority stake in 888 Holdings Plc valued at 4.9% of the company’s worth.
The London book is looking to leverage the millions of SI fans with their sports wagering platform. Launch in the US is planned for later this year.
Itai Pazner is the CEO of 888 Holdings Plc. He released the following comments in light of this new partnership:
“We think this is kind of the missing piece in our American puzzle. It will give us the local brand we were missing, access to a huge audience, and the opportunity to communicate with this audience on an ongoing basis.”
The battle for market share in the rapidly expanding legal US sports betting industry has been fierce with FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM quickly moving to the top of the list. Adding a highly recognizable brand name to an existing betting platform makes all the sense in the world as 888 looks to expand its presence in the US.
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The company’s existing US operations are tied to bingo and casino sites. It also extended a partnership with Caesars Entertainment earlier this year. This is part of Caesars’ highly popular World Series of Poker (WSOP) brand.
The launch into legal sports betting will take place in Colorado sometime this year. Marketing plans over the next few years call for expansion into 10 additional states.
The company is more commonly referred to as 888.com. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange as 888. Beyond its business interests in sports betting, 888.com does a substantial amount of volume in iGaming through online casino games and poker.
The partnership with Authentic Brands is currently set for 20 years. The terms of the deal allow for expansion into land-based retail sportsbooks under the Sports Illustrated brand name.
As a result of the dramatic increase in online gambling, 888.com’s revenue rose 52% last year to $850 million. It is estimated that 12% of that revenue was generated in the US market.
Authentic Brands bought the Sports Illustrated brand along with other intellectual property in 2019 from the magazine publisher Meredith Corp. for a reported $110 million.
Based in NYC, this holding company has acquired a number of high-profile brand names in recent years. Most of its brands center on athletic wear and other apparel.