888 Holdings, or 888.com, is a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange. There are several popular gambling brands operated under the 888.com banner, including 888casino, 888sport, 888poker and Wink Bingo. 888poker was initially launched as Pacific Poker in 2002 and later rebranded to 888 Poker. The brand has attracted several noticeable ambassadors from the realms of professional poker players and attracts a new player approximately once every 12 seconds, with over 10 million members signed up to date. Online poker is becoming an increasingly popular pastime, with the convenience and accessibility of online services attracting a new demographic of player and expanding the audience internationally.
The rise of online poker
Since poker became available to play online, the number of global players has increased. Many people who have previously been interested in learning to play poker but been put off by having to visit a brick and mortar casino in order to do so have been drawn in by the ease with which games can be accessed. Most poker sites, including 888poker, offer play money tables where new players can learn the rules and hone their skills for free, and real money play often starts at as little as 1c/2c. Players can choose to gamble small amounts, or risk higher blinds and antes for potentially higher returns. The biggest single online poker win so far occurred in 2010, when tournament winner Tyson Marks took home the grand prize of $2.3 million following a $5,200 buy-in.
How big is the online poker industry?
In the UK, around 3.2% of all adults play poker for real money, with 40 million regular players globally. This figure is likely on the increase, according to data from 888poker.
- Parent company 888 Holdings has seen an overall year-on-year increase in revenue of 37% in the first half of 2020, generating $379.1 million in the first six months of the year compared to $277.3 million in the first half of 2019.
- 888poker has played a key role in this success, with a 104% increase in new depositing customers and a YoY revenue increase of 56%.
The CEO of 888 Itai Pazner commented on the performance of the company throughout the first half of 2020, stating that the results were an accurate reflection of strong customer acquisition and a general trend towards using more online services among the public. Pazner also announced several product enhancements to be launched by 888 in the second half of 2020, which will include a new Control Centre for customer-centric safe gambling, a proprietary sportsbook and a new-look poker product.
Share prices in 888 Holdings leapt upwards following the announcement, which was made on the 30th of September.
- Each share was priced at 208.00p on September 29th, reaching 250.50p by the close of the 30th and a high of 264.00p by the 2nd of October.
- The company is currently valued at 962 million, with share prices having dropped only slightly to 261.00p per share as of the 7th of October, this compares to a trading price per share of 174.86 at the end of June.
- Strong share price momentum, a solid five-year return on capital employed of 33.2% and a quality financial history all combine to make 888 Holdings one to watch for shareholders and investors everywhere in the second half of 2020.
Can the industry continue to grow?
There are an estimated 100 million people worldwide who enjoy playing poker online. 888poker saw an increase in new first-time depositors of 104% YoY throughout the first half of 2020, suggesting that this figure is on the rise. Itai Pazner spoke about the success: “Poker was definitely the surprising vertical of the period, with many players shifting from physical poker games to online and a product that has a strong recreational nature and represents very good value for time spent on it”.
While new player deposits are driving growth in the online poker industry, a surge of new players often has the knock-on effect of attracting more seasoned players back to the sites as well. Those that believe they have good poker skills are often drawn to sites that have recently signed lots of new players as they see this as a money-making opportunity – fuller tables mean more cash in the pot, while less experienced players have less chance of winning over the longer term. However, this should not put people off from signing up – very few poker pros will spend much time playing at the smaller stakes tables, which is where newbies are most likely to start off.
A final word…
While people enjoy the convenience of playing online, there will always be some who prefer the atmosphere of a real event and the social aspect of gathering in real life. Technologies and features embedded in online poker sites are making the online game almost as social as gathering with a group of friends, which has the potential to keep the momentum moving forward. 888poker hosts a series of live events in conjunction with online services, with certain online tournaments offering tickets to live events as prizes for the winners.