888 flush with success as net poker takes off

BOOMING demand for internet poker in new markets has driven a 13 per cent rise in revenues at online gambling firm 888 Holdings.

Brian Mattingley, the UK-based company’s chief executive, said yesterday that the growth of poker in newly-regulated Spain and Italy had been “tremendous” and that he was confident of taking advantage of a liberalising US market.

888 announced last week it had become the first non-US firm to win an online poker licence in the country.

Yesterday, the company revealed that annual revenues had risen from $331m (£222m) to $376m, with growth in Europe and the Americas outstripping the UK. Pre-tax profit at the group exploded from $5.8m to $40.8m.

888 has been one of a number of UK firms to capitalise on friendlier laws in Spain and Italy, where the popularity of online poker has defied the economic woe.

Revenue in mainland Europe grew 14 per cent over the year, while revenues in the UK – 888’s biggest market – were up six per cent.

Revenues from internet poker rose 44 per cent, while the casino division grew 12 per cent and bingo shrunk by four per cent.

“Led by the long-awaited re-opening of the US market, from which we are uniquely well placed to benefit, 2013 is a year of significant opportunity and we have got the right deals in place to gain a substantial foothold in the US,” Mattingley said.