888 Considers Applying for Nevada Internet Poker License
888 Holdings Plc (888), a U.K.-listed Internet gambling company, may apply for an online poker license in Nevada, possibly for a venture with Caesars Entertainment Corp., Deputy Chairman Brian Mattingley said.
The company is is in the “advanced stages” of talks with Caesars, the world’s biggest casino company, about partnerships, he said. Also, second-quarter sales rose 29 percent, led by poker and casino games, the Gibraltar-based company said in a statement.
U.K. gambling companies are looking to lock up deals in the U.S. as states including Nevada and California consider Internet gambling. U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc (WMH) agreed to buy three companies to offer sports bets, which are legal in Nevada. 888 was licensed by Nevada for software services after it signed an agreement in 2009 with Caesars, formerly known as Harrah’s.
“We would love to do it with them,” Mattingley said in a telephone interview. He said 888 would decide whether to try for the Internet poker license by “mid-autumn.”
Last month, Nevada passed a law that permits Internet poker if the federal government also approves it.
The company would consider debt funding if it needed the money to expand in the U.S. or Spain, which is considering online gambling rules, Mattingley said. At the moment, 888 has no need for such funding. “It’s just we don’t want to miss no- brainer opportunities as they arise,” he added.
888 rose 2.25 pence, or 6.8 percent, to 35.25 pence at 9:45 a.m. in London, after earlier gaining as much as 9.1 percent. The shares have fallen 36 percent so far this year, giving the company a market value of 122.2 million pounds ($197 million).
It expects to report a full-year financial performance “marginally ahead” of current analyst forecasts. Second- quarter revenue gained to $79 million from $61 million in the year-earlier period, 888 said.
The company revamped its poker formats a year ago to make them more accessible to casual players, and it also added what it calls Pokercam, live video streaming of games. In April, Ladbrokes Plc (LAD) ended takeover talks with 888 that lasted almost four months.
Casino-game sales gained 34 percent to $36 million, and poker sales increased 58 percent to $13 million, 888 said. The company said its number of active casino and poker customers on June 30 was 342,000, more than double a year earlier.
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