One Step Closer to PA Online Poker Market with 888 License Approval

Written By Kevin Shelly on September 30, 2020 - Last Updated on June 16, 2021
WSOP heading to PA with 888 approval

The long wait for additional online poker operators in Pennsylvania may soon come to an end. has been in the process of gaining entry to the PA online poker market for months now, but it took one step closer Wednesday.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved Caesars‘ online poker partner 888 Holdings for an interactive gaming manufacturer license on Wednesday. A WSOP online poker launch would give PA players a second option, joining PokerStars PA. Meanwhile, live poker rooms in PA remain shuttered.

888 Holdings known for poker and strong mid-Atlantic presence

The Gibraltar-based company began as Casino-on-Net in 1997, founded by two sets of brothers from Israel. It rebranded as 888 in 2010.

Known for its mystical numerological name associated with good fortune, 888 was the first online gaming provider in America, licensed in Nevada in March of 2013.

That same year, the company debuted in New Jersey, where it operates an integrated platform with a strong poker site, an online sportsbook and live dealer games. There is a shared wallet for those verticals. The platform was retooled in August 2019 to better serve mobile users, and the platform is called Orbit.

888 Poker was the No. 1 poker website in the country last year. It has a self-branded poker platform, and its software powers World Series of Poker online and mobile sites. An 888 Poker PA site could also launch in the future.

The company also operates online casino and poker sites in Delaware in conjunction with the First State’s three brick-and-mortar casinos, giving it a robust regional presence with a solid footprint in three contiguous states.

Strong company results give 888 stock a boost

888 Holdings recently published bullish results for the six months ended June 30, 2020. Shares were up sharply Wednesday, and dividends rose.

The company cited progress, with H1 revenue growth of 37%, adjusted EBITDA growth of 56% and strong current trading.

888 Holdings reported momentum in the US, with revenue increasing by 90% year-on-year based on NJ growth. Group revenue was up 37% to $379.1 million.

Sports revenue decreased 1% to $44.1 million, but customers responded to the return of sports, with June 59% ahead of the prior year.

Adjusted EBITDA increased 56% to $70.1 million, while pre-tax profit grew 130% to $50.9 million. Adjusted profit before tax was $50.4 million. The company’s leadership anticipates that FY20 adjusted EBITDA will be significantly ahead of expectations.

What to expect from 888 and in PA

Caesars, now owned by Eldorado Resorts, finally got into the PA online gambling scene with the Caesars online sportsbook and casino in the spring. The 888-powered launch would complete its trio of iGaming offerings in PA. Caesars’ online products operate under the Harrah’s Philadelphia licenses.

888 operates on its proprietary Dragonfish software platform. The result is a slick platform, easy to use for mobile or desktop.

When it launches, expect WSOP PA to offer a $10 no-deposit bonus, a 100% deposit bonus up to $1,000 and a healthy offering of cash games and tournaments. Also, expect a top-tier rewards program (Caesars Rewards) and excellent customer service.

If Pennsylvania joins the interstate gaming compact, would be able to share player pools with WSOP NJ and NV as well as 888 poker in NJ and Delaware.

That would also eventually give PA poker players access to online series with highly coveted WSOP bracelets up for grabs.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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