New Client Leads to Big Poker Growth for 888poker New Client Leads to Big Poker Growth for 888poker

We are excited about the prospects of our US B2B business, having signed a multiyear extension to the flagship world series of poker agreement that will be rolled out to further states in 2021 Poker was front and center when 888 Holdings released details on its 2020 financial year. While the casino vertical provided the most raw revenue for 888 in 2020, the growth in the poker sector was notable.

In fact, while poker was the third biggest vertical for 888—both the casino and sports sectors collect more revenue—poker was the feature lead during the investors call, thanks to 57% annual growth.

Despite being a smaller contributor to the bottom line, poker is front and center in the business model for 888. 2020 marked a return to growth for the poker vertical after several years of declining revenue, and the growth rate was the second best it has ever been.

While all operators saw increased revenue in 2020 due to the pandemic, the big growth for 888poker is also down to the introduction of its new client. Poker 8 was rolled out over 2020 in much of the world and serves as a much needed upgrade to the poker experience.

CEO Itai Pazner focused in part on the entertainment value in the new client. “In terms of entertainment, most of the time in poker is actually spent on the poker table itself. So, we made this [the] focus and added fun and interactive items.”

Casino Pays Off Big

Poker may be the marquee game for 888, but it is the casino vertical that pays the bills. Fully 72% of the total revenue for 2020 came from casino games, with sports betting adding another 15%. Poker only accounted for 7.7% of total revenue last year.

Growth in the casino vertical was actually stronger than poker in 2020, with casino revenue increasing more than 60% to nearly $600 million total. Sports betting raked in well over $100 million but saw smaller year-over-year growth at just 35.7%.

During the recent investors call, 888 put the casino successes down to software as well. They said the differentiating market feature was “offering a unique range of content that combines a curated selection of popular games from top‐quality third‐party developers alongside unique games developed by 888’s Section8 games studio.”

US Big Piece of Poker Pie

Part of the success of the poker vertical came from the reemerging US market. Through a partnership with World Series of Poker (WSOP) and Caesars, 888 has been leading the way in the New Jersey poker market.

With the help of the fully online WSOP in 2020, the 888 partnership posted the best results for all operators in New Jersey. That market alone saw more than $16 million in total revenue for 2020.

NJ Online Poker Revenue by Network 2019 vs 2020

2019 2020 Growth % Average per Month 2019 Average per Month 2020
WSOP/888 $8,869,451 $16,399,275 84.90% $739,121 $1,366,606
PokerStars NJ $6,961,888 $12,611,564 81.15% $580,157 $1,050,964
partypoker US Network $5,103,627 $9,791,491 91.85% $425,302 $815,958
$20,934,966 $38,802,330 85.35%

The US segment is likely to grow in 2021 as well, and not just in New Jersey. Along with Caesars and WSOP, 888 plans to expand operations into Michigan and Pennsylvania in the first half of 2021.

The expansion will add populations of more than 20 million people to the existing market and will also herald the arrival of the new Poker 8 software in the US market. To date, New Jersey players have been using the more classic version of 888poker software, but t*he launches in PA and MI are expected to go live with Poker 8 from the start*, with the new software rolling out in New Jersey shortly after.

888 brass are generally bullish about the US poker market. “We are excited about the prospects of our US B2B business,” group CFP Yariv Dafna said, “having signed a multiyear extension to the flagship world series of poker agreement that will be rolled out to further states in 2021.” The deal with Caesars and WSOP to provide software was recently extended to 2026.

888/WSOP Poker 8 Software: At a Glance
  • New desktop client on Windows and Mac
    • Clean new lobby
    • Redesigned filters
    • Overhauled lobby design
    • Cleaner tables
    • Multi-flight tournaments
  • New mobile app for Android and iOS
    • Portrait design
    • Slick new layout
    • Play up to four tables simultaneously
    • PLO available
  • When is it deploying?
    • 888 hopes to go live in Pennsylvania with Poker 8 in H1 2021
    • A Michigan launch should not be far behind
    • It will then deploy to Nevada and New Jersey