Start-up to superstars: the story behind 888 Holdings

Here's how 888 Holding rose from a small-scale start-up to its current position within the internet gambling industry.

The emergence of the online gambling industry can be traced back to the middle of the 1990s and one of the first companies to arrive on the scene was 888 Holdings – which was launched in 1997. This company has gone on to become one of the leading online casino and sports betting firms, with massively popular sites such as 888Casino, 888sport and 888poker among its portfolio. This article will take a look at how the company rose from a small-scale start-up to its current pre-eminent position within the internet gambling industry.

The mid-1990s saw numerous companies appear in an attempt to take advantage of the new market for playing casino games online, but many of them failed to survive in the long-term. Having been started by the Yitzchak and Shaked brothers during 1997, 888 Holdings was one of those that survived and thrived. Although primarily located within the British Virgin Isles, the new company secured its gaming license from Antigua, where its technical and administrative headquarters was based.

Its very first product called Casino-on-Net hit the market in May of that year and brought the company its early customers – however it was the launch of Random Logic Ltd the next year that really saw the company’s growth begin. This was a business that offered 888 Holdings marketing, development and research and subsequently the first site to bear the ‘888’ brand arrived in 2002, along with Pacific Poker and the company’s first UK offices. The expansion of 888 Holdings’ portfolio continued during the next couple of years, along with a shift in its base of operations to Gibraltar – with the firm securing a new gaming license valid for this territory.

A further clear sign that 888 was now a major player in the online casino market came in 2005. This was when it became a listed company on the London Stock Exchange – while the winning of awards for Best Overall Online Gaming Operators and Best Casino Operator of the Year capped a tremendous year for the firm. It was also involved in the formation of consumer protection organisation eCOGRA, which is considered the industry standard in this area.

The next three years brought significant product expansion, as 888 acquired Globalcom Ltd Bingo and launched 888 Sport – ensuring it now had a site for every major type of online gambling. With innovative new ideas like Blackjack in Poker and localised Video Slots being added to the sites during this time, the company then focused on extending its reach.

First it secured approval to enter the North American online gambling market via the Nevada Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board, during 2011, then it launched in Italy the same after regulated gambling was legalised there. It reached Spain the following year, with considerable success, while slots games were added to its Italian site.

Barring a brief dip in its share price during 2006, 888 Holdings has enjoyed almost continual growth and success, expanding its markets around the world and increasing its share price – with its poker sites alone enjoying the third highest share of customers. This is perhaps fitting as it is believed to have been Aaron Shaked himself who came up with the concept of online casino.

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