888 Drops SI Partnership, Starts US Strategic Review

888 is running a strategic review after breaking its partnership with Sports Illustrated. This may mean the end of its US operations.

888, a publicly traded online gambling company, announced a “Strategic review of US B2C operations,” according to a London Stock Exchange press release. The company has hit hard times in both the US and European markets. 

A strategic review in the online gambling industry means a business is losing so much money that it must make major changes to stay viable. The latest bad news hitting 888 is it is paying Sports Illustrated $50 million to break its online sportsbook partnership. That sportsbook only operated in Colorado, Michigan, and Virginia. There was also an SI Casino in Michigan. 

888 has a few other US operations. In New Jersey, there are 888 casino and poker sites. The company licenses and handles most operations of the WSOP poker sites in Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

It is impossible to come up with anything positive to say about WSOP and 888. The Nevada and New Jersey software is the worst on the market. The support can’t resolve basic customer service issues. It seems like the poker site’s management team intentionally runs the site into the ground. It can’t even set up tournaments correctly. This simple error cost the company about $25,000.

888’s Woes

The problems at 888 go beyond poor management and software. There are major operational issues that call its integrity into question.

At the end of 2023, 888 lost the Delaware Lottery contract. That made the 888 poker site in Delaware fold. Rush Street Interactive took over the Delaware Lottery’s online gaming business. The new Delaware operated tripled online gaming revenue in its first month. The 888 casino game selection was the worst in the regulated US market. The only games available were blackjack, roulette, two video poker games, and about a dozen slots nobody ever heard of because they were proprietary. Rush Street parent company of BetRivers, brought a full slate of online casino games to the state’s lottery monopoly.

In 2022, the UK Gambling fined 888 £9.4 million. 888 was accused of money laundering and responsible gambling failures. That was the largest fine in UKGC history. It came after a £7.8 million fine for allowing over 7000 customers who had self-excluded to have access to a bingo account. The company “also failed to recognize visible signs of problem gambling behavior displayed by an individual customer, which was so significant that it resulted in criminal activity. The customer staked over £1.3million, including £55k stolen from their employer,” according to UK gaming regulators. 

Its Potential Effect on US Online Poker

WSOP’s online poker partner is 888. While the company said it will run a strategic review of its B2C business, WSOP is a B2B product. However, industry observers note how poorly the partnership has gone. There have long been rumors that WSOP would dump 888 and partner with GG Poker in the near future. 

888 may be responsible for how poor Nevada online poker is. The company’s first site manager did substantial damage to the site’s reputation. This author was banned for publicly discussing attempts to force me to play longer than I wanted. That is along the lines of the reasons why 888 was twice fined in the UK. That is why we warn all players that WSOP is not a safe poker site. This opinion would change immediately if 888 stopped operating WSOP’s online poker room. 

If 888 Leaves the US, It Won’t Be Missed

888 contributed little to nothing to the US online gambling industry. It abuses its Nevada online poker monopoly. It appears to have cost Delaware tens of millions of dollars in online casino revenue over a decade. Its sports betting business never got more than a little off the ground. 888 has a history of responsible gambling violations. 

It appears the day may soon come when 888 leaves the US market entirely. Nobody should miss them if that day comes.