World’s biggest online casino in €1bn float


1 Sep 2005

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One of world’s largest online casinos, 888 Holdings, is planning to float on the London Stock Exchange by the end of September. Based on previous initial public offerings (IPOs) in the online gaming industry, the firm could be valued at approximately £700m sterling (€1bn).

The Gibraltar-based company said the IPO to institutional shareholders outside the US will help to boost its profile and brand recognition as well as providing it with the funds needed for acquisitions.

888 Holdings, sponsor of English premier league football team Middlesbrough, claims to operate some of the world’s biggest online casinos with the Casino-on-net.com and Reefclubcasino.com brands. It also claims the world’s fourth biggest poker site, Pacificpoker.com.

“Today’s announcement marks an important step in our goal to become the market leader in the global online gaming entertainment industry and will enable us to further increase our brand profile, recognition and credibility,” chief executive John Anderson said in a statement.

888 Holdings is a subsidiary of Cassava Enterprises and is one of the world’s largest internet casino operators with 20 million registered player accounts. The company is 70pc owned by Avi and Aharon Shaked and 20pc by the family of Shay Ben-Yitzhak, its chief technology officer.

The global internet gambling market generated US$7bn to US$10bn in revenue in 2004. Some 2,500 websites offer poker, bingo, sports betting and online casino games.

The online gambling market could be worth some US$24bn by 2009, according to investment firm Christiansen Capital Associates, which specialises in the internet gaming business.

PartyGaming, owner of Partypoker.com, went public in August with a market value of approximately US$12bn. It recorded more than US$600m in revenue and net income of US$349m for 2004. PartyGaming is expected to be included in the FTSE 100 index on 16 September.

By John Kennedy