888 has powered the WSOP’s online poker client since 2013 and has also been the WSOP live festival official sponsor for the last six years.
It was already known that the affiliation between the two brands had been renewed, but the duration of their B2B partnership had not previously been revealed. The information came during 888’s recent 2020 full year results presentation.
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The decision to continue together for at least another five years is a huge signal of intent. It also follows on from a recent partnership extension in Delaware.
“888 is … pleased to have extended two of its established and successful US B2B partnerships,” the group stated earlier this month. “In June, 888 announced a two-year extension to its exclusive B2B contract with the Delaware Lottery and in January 2021 … the Group was pleased to announce a multi-year extension to its exclusive B2B poker partnership with Caesars Interactive Entertainment.”
These two deals firmly establish 888’s in the United States market. It remains best positioned to benefit from the expansion of shared liquidity in the country, as operators anticipate more clarity around the Wire Act which should permit liquidity sharing in PA and Michigan.
“The new agreement with CIE will see 888 continue powering the prestigious World Series of Poker brand’s online poker rooms until 2026, enabling 888 to continue to power the US market’s only interstate shared player liquidity poker network across New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada,” it was stated.
New Deal, New Software
One of the key points arising from this deal will be WSOP’s implementation of 888’s brand new Poker 8 client.
The software revamp has been met with widespread approval in Europe, where 888 has been rolling out its upgrades gradually since late 2018. The new client has seen massive improvements in functionality and graphics.
Attention has been paid to mobile optimization—in particular, a sleek new-look portrait mode for handheld devices.
The upgraded software took two years to bring to fruition and will also feature the ability to host multi-day and multi-flight tournaments—something that WSOP will no doubt value greatly.
When 888 launched the product in Europe towards the end of 2020, it did so with great fanfare, dishing out $1 million worth of prizes in the process.
Planning for the Future
In a January, Senior Vice President and Head of US at 888 Holdings, Yaniv Sherman, spoke to pokerfuse of 888’s desire to “gain a presence in new US states following the required regulatory approvals,” adding that it was “an important opportunity in our long-term development strategy for the US market.”
The expansion of shared liquidity across state boundaries is understandably important to 888.
888 has had a bumper year with poker revenue up 47.8% in 2020. This was of course partly due to Covid 19 but the roll out of the Poker 8 client has also been a significant factor.
888 will be keen to continue this uptick and capitalize on the current buzz surrounding the product. 888’s focus is now firmly on online poker in Pennsylvania, with a launch there imminent and the possibility of pooling players with other states in the future.
With WSOP currently providing the only shared liquidity pool in the US, it will be hoping to see the Keystone State added into the Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). In addition to this, 888 will also have its eye on launching in Michigan as it looks to continue its expansion in the US market.