There are numerous brand names synonymous with the rich (albeit short) history of online gambling in the UK, with the 888 Casino one of the most iconic.
888 is also considered to be one of the true trail-blazers in the international market, having grown to dominate the UK and subsequently makes its mark in the burgeoning US space.
Our very own 888 Casino NJ review can be found here, but in this post, we’ll cast our eyes over the history of this operator and how it has continued to evolve over time.
Starting Out – The Origins of 888 Casino
Interestingly, 888 Casino started out live under a completely different moniker, having been established under the ‘Casino-on-Net’ brand when it was first launched back in 1997.
Back then, brothers Aaron and Avi Shaked partnered with Ron and Shay Ben-Yitzhaq, with Aaron claiming to have come up with the original idea of developing an online casino while attending a dentistry conference in Monte Carlo.
This was just three years after the Free Trade & Processing Zone Act was passed in 1994, with this paving the way for the development and licensing of legal online casino platforms across the globe. This introduced a significant and heightened risk to the 888 brand, in addition to the universal risks that impact on startups across multiple industries.
This certainly made the platform one of the first on the scene in the UK, although the launch of subsequent 888 products triggered the rebranding of the casino in 2010. From this point onwards, the platform was referred to as the 888 Casino, in order to create a more holistic brand that increased awareness and recognition amongst customers.
The subsequent years have seen immense growth and expansion for 888 Casino, both from the perspective of sponsorship and its gradual rollout across a number of global jurisdictions.
In 2013, for example, 888 Casino was the title sponsor of the 2013 World Seniors Championship in snooker, while just two years later the prestigious Gaming Intelligence magazine described the platform as being “the only truly pan-European casino”.
To this end, 2015 saw the site fully licensed and operative in Gibraltar, Denmark and Spain in addition to the UK, while 888 has also breached the shores of the US market at this stage (we’ll have more on this later in the article).
In 2017, 888 Casino also signed a deal to include slot games from Berlin-based Merkur Interactive Services GmbH, while it was around this time that the brand earned eCOGRA’s coveted Safe and Fair assurance seal.
Appraising the Brands Move into the American Market
While the so-called “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006” (UIGEA) triggered mass exodus from the US marketplace, this began to change with the legalisation of online gambling in states such as New Jersey and Delaware.
In March 2013, 888 Casino also became the first company providing online gambling verticals to be licensed by any US jurisdiction, as the Nevada Gaming Commission accredited the firm as an ‘interactive gaming service provider’.
During August of that year, 888 Casino also signed an agreement with Caesars Entertainment Corporation, through the group’s All American Poker Network (AAPN). This enabled 888 to offer its own-branded products to NJ customers, creating a highly lucrative revenue stream that exists to this day.
These events afforded the brand a strong foothold in the market as it has continued to unfold, with Pennsylvania and Michigan having since legalised casino gaming and increased the size of the US marketplace considerably.
In addition to paving the way for sites like William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair to follow suit, this status has also enabled 888 Casino to agree a number of lucrative sponsorship agreements stateside.
In 2018, for example, the brand signed a sponsorship deal with NFL American football team the New York Jets, with 888 branding displayed prominently during all Jets games at the MetLife Stadium for the duration of the 2018/19 season. The Jets have won a single Super Bowl title (back in 1968), while they’ve also earned four divisional titles throughout their history and retain a large cult following to this day.
What’s more, 2019 saw the deal extended to run into the 2019/20 season, highlighting just how recognisable the brand is stateside in the modern age.
There’s also scope for further brand growth in the US market in the future, especially as more state authorities legalise online casino gambling. So, this will be an incredibly interesting space to watch in the near, medium and longer-term!