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888 to launch Sports Illustrated sportsbook


888 is to power a Sports Illustrated-branded betting and gaming website in the US market, in partnership with the monthly sports magazine.

SI Sportsbook is set to debut in Colorado in the second half of 2021 following an agreement between 888 and Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the brand development, marketing and entertainment company which acquired the Sports Illustrated brand for $110m in 2019.

Under the commercial agreement, ABG will grant to 888 an exclusive license for the use of the Sports Illustrated brand and trademarks for online sports betting and igaming, and some exclusive advertising and editorial integration rights on select Sports Illustrated branded digital assets.

As part of the transaction, ABG will receive brand license and affiliate fees, and a minority passive interest in the 888 group company holding certain of its US licensed B2C activity.

In addition, during the term of the commercial agreement, 888 has agreed to a minimum annual advertising commitment on some ABG media assets.

Itai Pazner, 888’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to announce this strategic partnership, enabling us to accelerate our investment into the US, which represents one of the most exciting long-term growth opportunities for our company.

“Sports Illustrated is an iconic sports media brand, with high awareness and consumer loyalty. This agreement provides us access to millions of engaged sports fans across the US, giving us a high-volume and cost-effective customer acquisition channel, and great content to engage sports fans.

“We are excited about the potential to deliver our cutting-edge, proprietary sportsbook platform into the market, providing Sports Illustrated fans with a first-class betting and gaming experience.”

Jamie Salter, ABG’s chief executive, said: “Sports wagering represents a large and high-growth market, allowing us to diversify the brand’s revenue streams and engage directly with our sports consumers, broadening the reach of the brand.

“888 is one of the leaders in online betting and gaming globally and has outstanding technology, products and marketing capabilities, and we are excited to partner with them to offer an innovative product experience for sports fans.”

888 launched its 888Sport brand in New Jersey in 2018, and in late 2020 announced multi-year market access agreements in Colorado, Indiana and Iowa with a view to debuting in those three states in 2021. It is able to operate under Colorado Grande Casino’s licence in Colorado.

Colorado’s retail and online sports betting market opened in May 2020 and generated revenue of $147.3m (£104.2m/€120.3m) during the first year, with players staking a total of $2.34bn.

ABG acquired Sports Illustrated from Meredith Corporation two years ago with a view to monetising the brand across multiple sectors, and just last week launched its SI Tix ticketing resale business. At the time, ABG said Sports Illustrated has a total audience of more than 120 million consumers worldwide.