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Sports Illustrated Joins US Sports Betting Frenzy with 888

Online gambling operator 888 Holdings has secured exclusive rights to the Sports Illustrated brand to develop and operate online casino and sports betting products in the US market.

888 has inked a 20-year deal with the owner of Sports Illustrated, Authentic Brand Group, news emerged on Thursday. The Gibraltar-based gambling firm has agreed to pay a licensing fee to its partner and to make additional payments after the product of this new collaboration is launched.

The size of these additional payments will be based on the number of customers the future sportsbook generates.

888 revealed Thursday that the new product would be called SI Sportsbook and that it is set to be rolled out by the start of the new NFL season. The gambling operator’s CEO, Itai Pazner, told investors that they hope to obtain a 5% market share in the states where they are currently offering wagering services.

Mr. Pazner further noted that the Sports Illustrated brand is set to open new doors to both gambling customers and land-based casinos around the US as local partners seem to prefer working with “brands they feel have a higher chance of success.”

Under the terms of the deal, Authentic would have a 4.9% stake in the new joint venture with 888, with the option to increase its ownership to 19.9%. Reportedly, the partnership also includes the potential for the SI Sportsbook brand to be used for brick-and-mortar wagering locations.

New Betting Product to First Go Live in Colorado

888 would debut the new SI Sportsbook brand in Colorado at some point in the second half of the year. Other states will follow. The gambling operator already has agreements to provide digital gaming and sports betting services under the 888 brand in New Jersey, Indiana, and Iowa.

It also supplies wagering technology for Caesars Entertainment’s World Series of Poker brand.

Authentic purchased Sports Illustrated and some of its intellectual property in 2019 in a $110 million deal. The magazine has been around for over half a century with its extensive sports coverage and crisp content, including colorful photography and hugely popular annual swimsuit issue. It generates more than 30 million unique visitors to its website, some of whom 888 officials hope to attract to the upcoming online sportsbook.

888’s deal with Sports Illustrated is the latest collaboration between an established gambling company and a media organization. US sports betting has become an extremely lucrative market since the Supreme Court struck down a long-standing federal ban on the practice in the spring of 2018.

Traditional media companies have been looking for a slice of the pie through partnerships with both North American and European gambling operators with strong presence in the wagering sector. In a slate of such deals over the past several years, Fox Corp. has paired up with former The Stars Group (now part of Flutter Entertainment, while William Hill (now part of Caesars) has partnered with CBS Sports.

Sports Illustrated Is Joining the Online Betting Bonanza, Bloomberg, June 24, 2021

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