888 Inks Online Gaming Extension with Delaware Lottery, Preserving Interstate Poker Network

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UK online gambling operator 888 Holdings has extended its online casino and poker monopoly technology contract with Delaware.

888 announced on Monday that it is extending its online technology deal with the Delaware Lottery by another two years. The parties have joined the hip since 2013, when the state launched its online gambling market through the three ‘racino’ operators of the state – Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway.

Delaware ‘s online offering hasn’t enjoyed the reported success of states with more competitive markets like New Jersey and Pennsylvania that set new records during the COVID-19 lockdown. Delaware’s iGaming revenue reached a mere $1.13 m in May, and while that was more than triple the amount recorded by the industry in February, it’s still nowhere near being proportionate to many other population-based nations.

Whatever the criticisms directed at the homogenous offer of Delaware, 888 continues to impress investors back home. Having bottomed out at 70.7p back in mid-March, 888 shares reached 176p last week, partly due to the release of a trading update in which the company predicted that its adjusted earnings for the FY20 would be “significantly ahead” of previous forecasts.

In March 888 announced that its growth in online casino and poker verticals in the first quarter of 2020 was more than offsetting COVID-19 struggles in its far smaller sports betting sector. Late last month, 888 reported that year-to-date average daily revenue was up 34 percent from last year’s same period.

888 CEO Itai Pazner said the company had enjoyed “particularly encouraging  performance in poker” as casinos shut down around the globe, leaving players with no choice but to search for alternatives on-line. Pazner also claimed that the progress made in poker by 888 was due in part to the company creating “a safe and entertaining destination” for recreational players.

As for the failing vertical sports, Pazner said bettors’ reaction to the continuing resumption of major league play was “better than expected” and the run-rate of sports revenue in June was “ahead of June 2019.”

888’s release made no reference whatsoever to its dominant vertical online casino, likely reflecting concerns that UK media and politicians’ current view of online slots is only slightly less hostile than how Donald Trump might be welcomed at an NAACP rally.