What has happened
Aviad Kobrine joined 888 Holdings as chief financial officer last summer at a
key time in the company’s progression.
It went head-to-head with competititor PartyGaming by listing in September
for the first time. Then in January it signed a five-year deal to sponsor the
World Professional Snooker Championships through its 888.com brand.
That contract signaled the end of an era in one of the most exposed sports
there is. Embassy had been the tournament’s sponsor for 30 years.
For an online company to seal a contract with such a prestigious event was a
sign of new times and could give Kobrine a bulging intray to grapple with. The
deal also comes in addition to sponsorship of Premiership
football club Middlesbrough, which shows how ambitious 888 Holdings has
become to make its mark and raise its profile.
Currently the 888 Holdings group, which publishes preliminary full-year
results today, has a portfolio of online casino and poker websites, including
888.com, Casino-on-Net.com, and Pacificpoker.com, boasting 20 million registered
The Gibraltar-based company, which is owned by Cassava Enterprises, listed on
the FTSE 250. PartyGaming had already listed on the FTSE100 in June.
What happens next
Kobrine had acted as a consultant to the business since October 2004 before
becoming CFO, and so was heavily involved in drawing up its strategy. Prior to
that he was a banker with the Media Telecoms Investment Group of Lehman
With estimates that the overall online gambling market could be worth $24bn
by 2009 up from between $7bn and $10bn last year, Kobrine has an exciting and
potentially lucrative role.
Chief executive John Andersen said the intention was to buy a sports betting
business later this year. Targeting non-US punters was the strategy he laid out
last month, with the main market aim being Asia. Legal restrictions in the US
make it hard to offer gamblers the range of products 888 Holdings would like.
The company has come a long way from its launch in Antigua, West Indies, in
1997, and is already established as a big player in the gambling market. No
doubt Kobrine will be key to plans to build on the success achieved so far.
History of 888 holdings
1997: Company founded in British Virgin Islands as Virtual
Holdings Ltd and its Antiguan subsidiary gained a gaming licence and launched
the company’s first product, Casino-0n-Net
2002: Second casino product Reef Club Casino launched as
well as multi-player online poker room, Pacific Poker, and 888.com, products
2003: Company moves to Gibraltar
2004: Betmate.com launched for non-US members
2005: Went public and entered the FTSE 250
2006: Wins deal to sponsor World Professional Snooker
Championships replacing long-standing contract the tournament had with Embassy
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