Betting on Big Things: UK Gambling Firm Splashes Cash as Sector Soars


With new figures showing that over half of British men gambled in the last month, and with the online gambling sector soaring, it’s no wonder big casino firms are looking for more opportunities in the billion-pound market. Now, in the latest move, one of the biggest players has scooped up a bunch of UK brands as it seeks to extend its reach and become an even bigger gambling operation.

888 Holdings, which is based in Gibraltar, listed on the London Stock Exchange and had earnings of over half a billion pounds in 2017, already has a raft of subsidiaries, including online gambling sites dedicated to casino games, sport and more. Last month, however, the company forked out over £18 million to buy out a number of profitable rivals, including Costa Bingo, Sing Bingo, City Bingo, Costa Games, Slot Crazy and Fantastic Spins, and became far larger in the process.

888 chief executive Itai Pazner said the buyouts were part of the firm’s strategy of fueling growth by focusing on mergers and acquisitions. “We are pleased to announce the acquisition of this portfolio of brands, which includes the well-established Costa Bingo,” he said. “Having been developed on Dragonfish, the Group’s first-class B2B platform, we are confident that consolidating these brands into our existing B2C portfolio will deliver synergies and growth opportunities by applying the full extent of 888’s core capabilities in product, marketing and customer relationship management to their operations.”

Big Online Gambling Business

The gambling market in the UK has been experiencing rapid growth in recent years and is currently worth over £13 billion, according to figures from the UK Gambling Commission, a statutory regulator of the sector that has been introducing new rules over the past year to make gambling safer and fairer to all — and has been handing out millions of pounds in fines to gambling operators that don’t comply.

The online gambling sector represents the biggest growth area in the gambling industry, the figures show, with revenues having risen by over 10% to nearly £5 million of the overall total. This is being facilitated by the increased availability of mobile apps and websites that have increased functionality and use the latest internet technologies to deliver enhanced experiences — and comparison sites, which help players to find the safest and best live casino online experience.

Last month, the Gambling Commission introduced another set of rules designed to make the gambling experience better for everyone and to protect those who should not be gambling in the first place. The new regulations mean gambling operators must verify a person’s age before — not after, as had been the case — they can put funds into an account they open with an online gambling site and play online games with their own money or by using a bonus or the kind of free bets that many operators provide.

Majority of People Enjoy Gambling

Underscoring the popularity of overall gambling, new data collected by the Gambling Commission, via phone and online surveys, shows that 46% of people in the UK have gambled in the last two weeks and that 51% of men had played online games for potential profit in the last month — for women, the figure was 41%. As for online gambling, 18% of those who took part in the survey said they had gambled via a website or mobile app in the last four weeks.

Not surprisingly, most people (96%) who were gambling online were doing so at home, such is the convenience gambling sites and apps provide, with 45% of online gamblers using laptops and 55% opting for a smartphone or tablet computer. And 23% of those polled said they had gambled “in-play” — or during a live event, not before — in the last four weeks. The survey also found that there were hardly any problem gamblers among those surveyed — the figure was just 0.7%.

It’s, therefore, a safe bet that the thriving British gambling sector is a profitable one for operators like 888, as well as for the many gamblers, online and off.

Last modified: March 7, 2019