888 reports positive first-half results

Ship Teh Chips
Chips are up for 888 Holdings Plc.

888 Holdings Plc. released the results of the first half of 2007, and the outlook is positive for the second half of the year also as company officials talk about acquisitions and future plans.

Financial highlights for the company's first two quarters include:

  • Net gaming revenue rising 24%
  • Profit before tax rising 298%
  • Operating expenses down

The company, which owns Pacific Poker, also saw its casino revenue rise 22%, and net gaming revenue from poker specifically rose 19%.

Continued growth in all games and major territories are among the accomplishments that helped 888 achieve these results, in the wake of losing the U.S. customer base it had relied so heavily upon before the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in the nation.

The company has expanded to include backgammon and bingo products, and it has launched new games in all 12 supported languages.

The online gambling company made a deal with Rileys Snooker Halls in the United Kingdom for a strategic partnership earlier this year, and it recently made a similar deal with Tower Torneos in Latin America.

888 officially announced the Tower Torneos deal today along with its first-half revenue results.

The deal joins 888 with one of Latin America's leading poker brands.

Under the terms of the agreement, Tower Torneos' poker offering will use the 888 platform and will be supported by 888's operational capabilities.

In return, Tower Torneos' customers will have full access to all of 888's offerings, including casino games, bingo and backgammon.

"This agreement with one of Latin America's leading poker brands, Tower Torneos, is a further progression in 888's diversified, multi-channel strategy to grow our customer reach and appeal and to broaden our potential audience significantly," said Gigi Levy, 888 CEO.

"The combination of 888's global experience and Tower Torneos' expert local knowledge will help the partnership achieve regional leadership."

The partnership falls right in line with 888's strategy of targeting key markets for expansion outside the United States, providing more localized service for worldwide markets.

"Our withdrawal from the U.S. meant that our principle of 'Thinking Global while Acting Local' became more important than ever," Levy said in statement in 888's interim results report. "With customers all around the world and a need to grow in a number of markets simultaneously, we had to enhance our local focus quickly."

According to Levy, the plan for the second half of the year is to stick with this focus as well as to continue to develop new and innovative elements to add to the company's offerings.

"H2 plans include additional games with a focus on local games, a content delivery platform which will provide our active customers with premium content free of charge and at least one additional channel to market on top of Internet, Mobile and Airplane-entertainment (for non-real-money games) which we have already launched," Levy said.

The company is still facing challenges, however. Concerns remain about the regulatory environment in the United States, but 888 has been in talks to make a deal with the nation to avoid retroactive prosecution for taking bets in the U.S. before the UGEA was passed.

In the interim results press release, Levy said it is too early to assess any particular outcome of the discussions.

He told Reuters that any deal they make would probably come after the United States has dealt with PartyGaming Plc.

"PartyGaming was so much bigger than us in the United States, so I'm sure on the Department of Justice's list, we are just a small fish," Levy said to Reuters.

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