888 hits jackpot thanks to poker growth in Spain

888 HOLDINGS has reaped the rewards from an ambitious marketing campaign and expansion in the newly regulated Spanish gaming market, the company said yesterday, leading it to better than expected sales.

The online poker and casino operator said turnover had jumped seven per cent year-on-year in the quarter to October. While growth in casino gaming was steady, poker saw a rise of 21 per cent, and turned a profit in the new Spanish market despite all expectations to the contrary.

“Our core business has continued to perform well during the quarter, with our targeted marketing campaigns contributing towards our ongoing success and Spain outperforming our expectations,” 888’s chief executive Brian Mattingley said, adding that the fourth quarter had “started positively”.

888 Holdings saw sales of $92m (£56.9m) in the period, and said the number of customer accounts had increased 24 per cent to 12.5m. The success drove the share price up to levels not seen for two and a half years as a host of City experts upgraded the company.

The value of the firm’s shares have increased more than 2.5 times since the start of the year.

Nick Batram at Peel Hunt upgraded the firm to a “buy” rating, and said: “888 is demonstrating that an online business with a strong product proposition and excellent execution can grow the bottom line, even in markets where the costs of regulation are rising.”

The company’s year-to-date revenues are currently running at around three per cent above last year.