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888 maintains momentum as revenue reaches all-time high in Q1

| By Robert Fletcher
Online gambling operator 888 Holdings has revealed it was able to achieve record revenue in the first quarter of 2021 after experiencing year-on-year growth across all of its business segments.
Itai Pazner

Overall revenue for the three months to 31 March reached $262.8m (£189.4m/€217.8m), compared to $156.9m in Q1 of 2020, representing a 66% year-on-year increase and 56% rise on a constant currency basis. 

Revenue from its B2C operations – comprising casino, sports betting, poker and bingo – was up 67% year-on-year to $262.8m, with growth across all four product types within this segment.

Casino remained the primary source of B2C income, with revenue climbing 80% to $195.2m. 888 put this down to investment in the casino product over recent years, as well as ongoing development of its artificial intelligence (AI) driven personalisation and continued expansion of content, including the addition of new games from Playtech and its Section 8 in-house studio.

Turning to sports, revenue here was up 63% to $41.6m. The operator also noted the majority of 888sport volumes were migrated to its new in-house platform during Q1 with almost no interruption to customers. 

Sports stakes were up 38%, while betting net win margin was 8.0%, up from 6.8% in 2020, which the operator said reflected a combination of favourable sport results and a structural improvement in win margin due to the enhanced product and promotional capabilities of its in-house platform.

Poker revenue increased by 13% to $14.7m, helped by ongoing strong customer reaction to the Poker8 product, while an improved home page and AI features helped push bingo revenue up 16% to $11.4m.

Turning to B2B operations, revenue here increased by 27% year-on-year to $9.7m, with the operator noting growth within its B2B bingo and US operations during the quarter.

Other highlights for 888 during the period included a 27% increase in average daily first-time depositors and an 18% rise in funded active players. 

Regulated markets accounted for 76% of all revenue in the quarter, as the operator noted particularly strong growth across the UK, Italy, Spain, Romania and Portugal.

In addition, 888 highlighted the ongoing rollout of its “Control Centre” safer gambling suite, which extended to further products and countries as part of its ongoing investment in responsible gambling initiatives.

“The strong momentum in 2020 has continued into the first quarter of 2021, with a new all-time-high for FTDs [first-time deposits] and revenues, although year-on-year trends were partly inflated by the disruption to sporting events at the end of the prior year period, and increased demand for digital entertainment during this period across our main markets,” 888 chief executive Itai Pazner (pictured) said.

“Our differentiated products and our data-driven marketing continued to underpin strong progress, supported by a favourable industry backdrop. 

“We are particularly pleased with the strong performance of our new proprietary 888sport platform, which is already servicing the majority of bets while maintaining strong customer service levels and highly effective risk management and trading.”

Looking ahead to Q2 and beyond, 888 said that year-on-year trends will be impacted by a tougher comparative period, the expected impact of regulatory and compliance changes and the effect of the reopening of retail and leisure venues across our markets, following the easing of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions in markets worldwide. 

888 added it will continue to increase investment in product and marketing to support long-term growth, which it said would allow adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to be broadly consistent with 2020, despite more investment in US B2C expansion.

“We are excited about the US, where we plan to roll out sports into further states in the next few months, and launch our upgraded poker platform into further states in partnership with Caesars and their leading and hugely popular WSOP brand,” Pazner said.

“We remain very pleased with the strong momentum in the business and the continued positive customer reaction to our suite of new products and innovations. 

“As a result, and underpinned by the group’s strengths as a product-centric, responsible, and diversified operator, the board believes that 888 has an outstanding platform to deliver continued strategic progress during 2021 and beyond.”

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