Bingo loving players at 888 will be forced to down their dabbers after the firm revealed they were selling their bingo division.
The 888 Holdings CEO, Itai Pazner, has confirmed that they have agreed a deal with Saphalata Holdings – overseen by the Broadway Gaming Group – to sell all of their bingo assets to the outfit for around £37 million.
It follows hot on the heels of 888 acquiring William Hill’s European operations, and signals their intent to focus on their core businesses of retail and online sports betting and casino gaming.
The move will be considered a sad loss for bingo lovers, with 888’s proprietary Dragonfish software generally revered as one of the finest around – powering the firm’s portals which include 888bingo and 888ladies. But Broadway will integrate the software into their own B2B and B2C operations, while also taking on 888’s existing brands and partners.
The potential spanner in the works is that Saphalata Holdings doesn’t currently have a licence from the UK Gambling Commission, but should they get the approval they require the deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of next year.
Pazner said the decision came about after a strategic review into 888’s operations revealed bingo to be a ‘loss leading’ product for the firm, designed to bring in new sports bettors and casino gamers.
“Following a strategic review, we have taken the decision to sell the bingo business,” he confirmed.
“This strategic transaction will enable 888 to further increase its focus on its core platform and unified, scalable and proprietary technology, and grow our key product verticals of casino, sport and poker, as we continue in our mission to be one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming businesses.”
You do wonder what Broadway sees in the bingo business, which recorded a loss of some £57.6 million in 2020, although with annual revenue of around £49 million there is clearly scope for net wins to be made.
And they will also benefit from the terms of the deal, which will be transacted under a ‘cash and debt-free basis’. That basically means that 888 get to keep all of the money made on the balance sheet, although they are also duty-bound to pay off any outstanding debts – handing a clean slate to Broadway.
The firm’s CEO, David Butler, seems chuffed enough with the takeover anyway.
“We are delighted to reach an agreement with 888 to acquire its bingo business and platform,” he said.
“By combining these with our existing business and brands, we will be able to achieve an even stronger global footprint in key regulated bingo markets.”
The UK online bingo sector is thought to be worth approximately £300 million annually, and so by acquiring 888’s brands Broadway have already eaten into a significant chunk of the market.
As well as 888bingo and 888ladies, they will also take the reins of the Wink, Costa and Robin Hood bingo operations, while continuing with their in-house Butlers Bingo brand to ensure they command a major slice of the pie.
Broadway Gaming also owns and operates a number of online casino brands, including Casino of Dreams and Lucky 247.