- The Sports Illustrated branded sportsbook powered by 888Sports is now live in Colorado.
- The partnership between Sports Illustrated’s parent company Authentic Brands Group and 888 Holdings was announced in June.
- Although there’s not any specificity on where and when the SI Sportsbook will launch next the press release announcing the partnership indicated that ‘other states will follow’ the Colorado launch.
One of the most iconic names in the history of US sports media is now in the bookmaking business. The Sports Illustrated branded sportsbook ‘SI Sportsbook‘ went live today in Colorado. The sportsbook is powered by 888Sports who at last check were also planning to launch in Colorado under their own brand. No indication when that will be forthcoming.
Plans for the SI Sportsbook were announced in June 2021. At that time, European based gaming provider 888 Holdings signed ‘an exclusive partnership to develop Sports Illustrated online sports betting and iGaming products in the United States’ with the magazine’s parent company Authentic Brands Group. Colorado is the debut state for the SI Sportsbook though the press release announcing the partnership indicated that ‘other states will follow’. Although no indication was given as to which states would be next for SI Sportsbook you have to figure that they’re looking at Iowa, Indiana, New Jersey, Wyoming and a few others for their next move. 888 already operates a casino, sports betting and poker platform in New Jersey under their brand name.
Here’s what Authentic Brands Group founder, Chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said about the partnership at the time it was announced:
“We are thrilled to announce that Sports Illustrated is entering the online sports betting and iGaming space. 888 is one of the leaders in online betting and gaming globally and has outstanding technology, products and marketing capabilities, and we are excited to partner with them to offer an innovative product experience for sports fans.”
888 CEO Itai Pazner is excited not only to expand his company’s US footprint but also to work with a well established brand like Sports Illustrated:
“We are excited about the potential to deliver our cutting-edge, proprietary sportsbook platform into the market, providing Sports Illustrated fans with a first-class betting and gaming experience.”
Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Maven, the operator of Sports Illustrated’s print and digital assets, also weighed in on the partnership and announced that the magazine and website would offer more gaming related content:
“Sports Illustrated is the most trusted brand name in sports, and trust in the gaming space is paramount. The editorial, content and betting experience will reflect the integrity and ethos that SI has maintained for more than six decades.”
The SI brand is a good one but brand identity in the ‘gaming space’ is a bit more complex than that. You have to know what you’re doing and the overwhelming majority of the new media entrants into the sports betting ecosystem have zero experience there. Many also have zero interest in learning or hiring content creators and analysts with sports betting related experience. The same banal trivia that comprises most of the mainstream sports media in the 21st Century is flat out useless for sports betting.
While there’s plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the quality of Sports Illustrated’s gaming content that isn’t the case with the sportsbook. 888Sports is a capable operator and SI’s involvement on the sports betting side is primarily one of branding and marketing. I’ll reiterate the point that I’ve made repeatedly–the ‘jury is still out’ on the value of this kind of partnership. A popular brand–be it SI, ESPN, Barstool Sports or whatever–might get casual recreational players in the front door but at that point the quality of the sports betting experience will either keep them there or not. SI is fortunate to be working with an experienced gaming operator like 888 so this symbiotic relationship might end up being very effective.
Colorado continues to be far and away the best sports betting jurisdiction in the country. The SI Sportsbook becomes the 25th mobile betting platform under the auspices of the Division of Gaming. With the tribal run Ute Mountain Sportsbook there are now 26 different ‘outs’ live for Colorado bettors. No other state comes close and more sportsbooks are waiting in the wings to enter the Colorado market.