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Costa Bingo purchased by 888 Holdings

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Mar/19/2019

888 Holdings are the proud owners of one of the internet’s oldest casinos.

Casino-on-Net, now 888casino, was launched in May 1997 – meaning they have more than 20 years of industry experience. Throughout their existence, 888 have consistently strived to better themselves through expansions, mergers and acquisitions. In 2007, 888 made its first acquisition, with the purchase of the bingo business, Globalcom Limited.

Now, in 2019, the company has acquired a portfolio of Jet’s bingo brands, including Costa bingo, in an attempt to strengthen their position within the UK online bingo market. The acquisition of Costa Bingo came at a price - eighteen million pounds to be exact - twelve million will be paid upon completion of the takeover, with a further six million to be added in September of this year.

All in all, 888 has acquired several brands from Jet, which used to operate as B2B brands on 888’s Dragonfish Bingo Platform. The portfolio includes several bingo platforms including the well-established Costa Bingo, City Bingo and Sing Bingo. Itai Pazner, the company’s Chief Executive, commented, ‘The group continues to deliver its stated strategy of expanding across global regulated markets. This expansion is underpinned by organic growth initiatives supported by exploring value-enhancing M&A. 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.”

As a company, 888 has a long and interesting relationship with the game of bingo. As mentioned, 888’s first acquisition was of the bingo business and assets from Globalcom Limited, and in February 2008, 888 launched the wildly successful 888ladies Bingo. It was an attempt to reinstate revenue after the passing of the UIGEA in the United States in September 2006, which saw the US clamp down on online gambling. 888 lost half its sales due to this clampdown, but 888ladies Bingo and the idea of ‘bingo babes’ saw total operating income rise from twenty-six million pounds to sixty-nine million in three months.

As the smoking ban saw online bingo halls suffer from lack of gamblers, the idea of playing online bingo from the comfort of your home became a lot more appealing, to women especially.  The chief executive of 888 at the time commented, ‘Online bingo is booming everywhere, but it's a mistake to link it to traditional bingo because that's a completely different proposition. Our women are young, above average income and typical Internet consumers. Land-based bingo is about elderly people, smoking and aggressive slot machines.’ He went on to say, ‘People are cutting back on leisure, but they are staying home and spending only in the low tens of pounds a month with the chance of winning some extra cash. The beauty of it is there are very low costs and a huge number of players. So, despite low margins, it is very profitable.'

888 operates several online bingo sites and they are dedicated to providing an excellent service to its bingo players, offering a variety of games to suit everyone. The games have an emphasis on chat rooms, making it possible for the bingo player to connect with other players, socialising and offering support and tips for playing. In December 2009, 888 continued to expand by acquiring a popular bingo site, Wink Bingo, another way of reaching the target market of young, middle-class women.

888 agreed to acquire the assets of Wink Bingo from privately owned Daub limited, for an initial payment of eleven million pounds plus a further payment in 2012, said to have risen as high as sixty million pounds. At the time of acquisition, Wink Bingo had up to sixty thousand online users, making the acquisition a potentially lucrative one. 888 Holdings’ CEO Gigi Levy commented, ‘we are delighted to announce the Wink Bingo acquisition as an expansion of our B2C online Bingo footprint in the lucrative UK market. The Wink team has a proven track record of excellence in marketing, CRM and execution and will be a great addition to our growing Bingo business.’

888’s acquisition of Wink Bingo saw a huge advertising campaign being rolled out, with the Wink Bingo logo projected onto the Houses of Parliament. Publicity for the brand has been drummed up by the use of promotions and competitions, with competitions such as The Breakfast Club competition which asks users to take photos of their meals and upload them to the Wink Bingo Facebook page to win Asda vouchers. With publicity such as this, and by getting customers involved in exciting and innovative ways, Wink Bingo certainly helped to further 888’s expansion.

888 Holdings is an influential gambling company with a long history of acquisitions and expansions, this latest acquisition of Costa Bingo will only help the company to expand even further – it’ll certainly be interesting to see what they have up their sleeve.

 

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