888 Holdings CEO Itai Frieberger believes the operator has given itself more flexibility to exploit new opportunities in the regulated US iGaming market by acquiring the remaining 53% interest in the All American Poker Network.
The operator has acquired the 53% stake held by Avenue OLG Entertainment, the private equity firm with which it established the joint venture in 2013, and other minority shareholders of the network in a $28m cash transaction. Of this sum, $10m will be paid up front, with the remaining $18m to be paid by March 31, 2019.
By taking sole ownership of the All American Poker Network (AAPN), 888 gains total control of its US growth strategy. It will be able to to sign new partnerships and deploy products and technology in new states as they regulate without the need for partner approval, the operator noted.
“The acquisition of the remaining stake in AAPN is an important strategic step towards 888 achieving its exciting long-term potential in the US,” Frieberger explained.
“Taking outright ownership of AAPN gives 888 additional operational, technological and commercial flexibility to develop innovative and exciting new partnerships and launch in new states – through both B2B and B2C channels – as and when future regulation allows.
“This acquisition places 888 in an even better position to take advantage of the significant growth opportunities in the US and create additional value for our shareholders.”
Frieberger credited the joint venture with helping provide the flexibility and financial capability for 888 to establish itself in the regulated US market while continuing to invest in other territories around the world. He thanked Avenue Capital for being “fantastic partners” in the project.
While the launch facilitated the roll-out of the 888poker and 888casino brands in New Jersey in November 2013, 888 has since strengthened its position in the US through the launch of 888sport in September this year. It has also agreed the first sponsorship deal between an iGaming operator and National Football League (NFL) team through its partnership with the New York Jets.
Currently the AAPN is part of the only interstate poker network in the US, offering players in Delaware, Nevada and since April this year, New Jersey, the opportunity to play against one another.