- 888 Holdings has announced that they’re extending their deal with Caesars Entertainment to power the World Series of Poker online poker rooms.
- 888Sport is in the process of expanding outside of New Jersey into Colorado, Indiana and Iowa.
- 888 Holdings offers sports betting and casino gaming in New Jersey along with casino gaming in Delaware and Pennsylvania. They offer poker in all three states.
- 888 Holdings is based in Gibraltar and listed on the London Stock Exchange.
888 Holdings has made a good deal of progress expanding their presence in the US sports betting industry over the past year despite the obstacles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re already offering sports betting in New Jersey under the 888Sport brand and will launch in Colorado, Indiana and Iowa in early 2021. They also offer casino gaming online in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. With recent regulatory changes in parts of Europe (particularly Germany) the Gibraltar based, London Stock Exchange listed company is seeking to expand their market share in the United States.
In addition, they’ve made a move to secure a long standing revenue stream by extending their B2B poker partnership with Caesars Interactive Entertainment. The multiyear deal will have 888 continue to power the World Series of Poker (WSOP) online poker platform. The platform is currently available in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada and plans are underway to enter new markets as the US regulatory dominoes continue to fall. The WSOP platform also operates the US market’s only interstate shared liquidity poker network connecting the aforementioned three states.
Upcoming in 2021 will be the US launch of 888’s next gen poker software dubbed ‘Poker 8’. The platform launched in Europe in November 2020 and represents a significant upgrade both on the surface and under the hood. The user experience has been enhanced with new interactive flourishes such as graphic and animations while gameplay options have increased to include features like multi-day and multi-event tournaments. 888 also powers CIE’s Harrah’s and World Series of Poker Casino brands in New Jersey.
Yaniv Sherman, Senior Vice President–Head of US for 888 Holdings is glad that his company is extending the deal with Caesars:
“Our partnership with Caesars has been powering the hugely popular WSOP brand online since 2013 and we are looking forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come.We are also excited at the prospect of adding new states to our unique interstate poker network in 2021 and beyond, which we believe would drive a significant increase in liquidity for poker players on the 888 platform. Our extended relationship will also enable 888 to gain a presence in new U.S states following the required regulatory approvals,which presents an important opportunity in our long-term development strategy for the U.S. market.”
With the long running World Series of Poker suffering a disruption in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic the online platform became a crucial asset in allowing a winner to be crowned in a hybrid virtual/in person format. The field was narrowed down to the final 8 in US and Europe via online play. The 8 remaining players in each jurisdiction then competed live in the ‘final table’ held in Las Vegas and the Czech Republic simultaneously. The winners of each competition–Damian Salas in Europe and Joseph Heber in the US–met in a heads up final at the Rio Las Vegas.
Ultimately, the WSOP main event winner wasn’t crowned until early 2021. Originally scheduled for December 30, 2020 the final was delayed until January 3, 2021 due to Salas experiencing travel problems flying from Europe to the US. He was twice denied passage at airports due to COVID-19 related travel protocol but eventually was able to make it to Southern Nevada. It was definitely worth the effort as Salas won the heads up battle giving him the coveted WSOP bracelet and $2.5 million USD.
Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker and Senior Vice President of Caesars Interactive emphasized the role the online platform played in helping the poker community meet the unprecedented competitive challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic:
“We’re proud of the success story to date, particularly the record-setting tournament events of 2020, and are optimistic about the future of real money online poker in the U.S.”
Although there were a few glitches–most notably the absence of live video coverage of the WSOP Main Event final table in the US–most poker pros and gaming industry observers thought that under the circumstances the online/live hybrid format worked well. With so much unknown about the success of COVID-19 abatement worldwide in 2021 the WSOP made the proactive decision to expand their commitment to online play. It would be a big surprise if the hybrid format doesn’t continue going forward. The logistics of accommodating such a large field for the main event in Las Vegas is a never-ending challenge under the best of circumstances and is an anathema to social distancing.