Given the rapidly changing business environment in the current legal US sports betting market, the company decided to head in a new direction. As part of UK-gaming giant 888 Holdings, a partnership with Authentic Brands Group (ABG) set this new course in motion.Jump to
The Sports Illustrated Sports Betting Initiative
In 2020, 888 and ABG came together on a plan to use the famed Sports Illustrated brand as a springboard for a SI Sportsbook.
ABG acquired Sports Illustrated as a prominent US media property in 2019 in a deal with Meredith Corporation for $110 million. The partnership with 888 was designed to leverage the magazine’s popularity with US sports bettors.
In June of this year, 888 first announced the company’s plans around the SI Sportsbook brand. Under the agreement with ABG, 888 was given exclusive rights to use the Sports Illustrated brand and trademarks for both online sports betting and iGaming products.
This partnership also included the rights for certain exclusive advertising and editorial integration. This covered specific Sports Illustrated branded digital assets.
In return, ABG received the brand license and affiliate fees along with a minority ownership interest in any US business entities tied to 888 Holdings.
The initial launch of SI Sportsbook took place this past September when it was added to the list of Colorado sportsbooks. It was planned that SI Sportsbook would also join the list of Indiana sportsbooks and Iowa sportsbooks.
At the time, Yaniv Sherman released the following comments acting as 888’s senior vice president and head of US operations:
“By partnering with Sports Illustrated, we have created a strong platform that enables us to build our US position through Sports Illustrated’s extensive brand footprint. This provides an opportunity to cost-effectively acquire customers and build a profitable business over time.”
888sport in New Jersey
While 888sport commands a huge customer base in its primary regulated market covering the UK and Europe, it failed to gain any significant share in the US. The brand’s biggest market was in New Jersey.
The base in New Jersey was the brand’s biggest asset. Over the past three years, the Garden State has grown to become the largest legal market in the US for sports betting. Including September, the monthly sports betting handle in New Jersey has exceeded $1 billion in total volume in each of the past three months.
The biggest players in that state are FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM. In light of the existing deal with ABG, 888sport is rolling up the tent in New Jersey to make way for the launch of SI Sportsbook.
The brand recently announced that will no longer offer legal sports betting in New Jersey. All existing betting customers will be able to withdraw any remaining balance from their online accounts. Any open bets that were placed before this announcement were honored.
Current plans earmark the first quarter of 2022 as the expected launch of SI Sportsbook in the Garden State.