For a purchase price of £15 million, 888 Holdings acquired Irish online sportsbook provider BetBright on Monday. Based in Gibraltar, 888 Holdings consists of four major iGaming platforms offering online casino games, poker, sports betting, and bingo.
But while 888 Sports previously relied on Swedish sportsbook software provider Kambi to provide backend services, absorbing BetBright provides the company with full autonomy over its operations going forward.
Purchase Positions 888 Holdings for Sports Betting Expansion
Launched in 2013 by twin brothers Marcus and Richard Brennan, along with Tadhg O’Toole, the Dublin-based BetBright eschewed white label software providers in favor of developing its own proprietary platform.
That gamble paid major dividends three years later, when BetBright took home the “Best In-House Product” award at the 2016 eGaming Review (EGR). The company also claimed the “Best Football Betting Product” honor during that year’s Sports Betting Community (SBC) awards.
And just last year, BetBright landed the “Innovation in Sports Betting” award from EGR.
In a press release announcing the acquisition, Itai Pazner – who serves as chief executive officer of 888 Holdings – alluded to the company’s desire to bring its sports betting business under the same wholly-owned umbrella as its three other iGaming products:
“This acquisition of a high-quality and scalable sportsbook is an exciting milestone for 888.
It gives the group the missing piece in our proprietary product and technology portfolio and will enable 888 to own proprietary, end-to-end solutions across the four major online gaming verticals [sports, casino, poker and bingo].
With 888sport becoming an increasingly established and popular worldwide sports betting destination, we believe it is the right time to take ownership of our full sports betting proposition.
We are confident that this acquisition will increase the group’s long-term prospects and differentiation in the growing global sports betting market.”
Shares of 888 Holdings stock traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) received a small boost – jumping nearly two points from 173.60 at 9:00 a.m. local time Monday to 24 hours later – but the price has since dipped to 171.40.
Conversely, shares of Kambi – which currently services 888 Sports in New Jersey – tumbled from 162.00 to 143.00 over the same 24-hour period on the Stockholm Stock Exchange (SSE).
The BetBright deal marks 888 Holdings’ third major acquisition in the last four months, following an £18 million takeover of Costa Bingo last month, and a $28 million purchase of the All American Poker Network (AAPN) last December.
BetBright’s Cancelation of Futures Bets Causes Controversy
In an announcement posted to its sportsbook website on Tuesday, BetBright advised customers that the company had “ceased offering gambling services to its customers on a permanent basis.”
Bettors have been provided with a 30-day window with which to withdraw funds, but another announcement sparked immediate controversy among the BetBright community.
Under the site’s “FAQ” page regarding the company’s sale, BetBright told players that “all single bets due to settle after 5 March at 23:59pm will be voided.” Furthermore, any parlay bets with winning “legs” – or portions of a multiple-result wager – will be settled “as a winning bet with the remaining unsettled legs voided”.
This policy angered punters who have “futures” bets pending on high-profile sporting events such as next week’s Cheltenham Festival horserace, the Grand National horserace in April, or season-long wagers on which team will claim the Premier League soccer title.
Asked for comment by U.K. newspaper The Guardian, a spokesperson for the country’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) answered simply:
“We have received a number of complaints about this matter and are making further enquiries.”