888 Using Its Building Blocks To Give It An Edge In A Crowded NJ Online Market

888 Holdings is all in when it comes to New Jersey online gambling.

We’re talking about a company that made its Garden State debut back in 2013 with its 888 Casino offering.

In 2019, 888 is a triple-threat in New Jersey: Along with the casino, the integrated site features 888 Poker and 888 Sportsbook.

There is plenty of news to share on all three fronts. But keeping up with the times is key.

For some insight on exactly what’s new and on the horizon, we checked in with Yaniv Sherman, 888’s head of commercial development.

888 Casino’s new platform

One of the bigger developments took place earlier this month when 888 unveiled its redesigned NJ online casino platform.

Yes, the company literally launched into Orbit, a brand-new sleek and stylish system that, according to 888, makes the site work faster and more efficient.

Sherman says it’s “the newest and most advanced casino platform out there.”

One of the biggest differences with the new product is it’s a web-based platform and “very much resembles other gaming, not gambling products.”

“It’s very mobile-focused. So it’s really swipe-and-touch adaptive,” said Sherman. “And as I said, we’re trying to offer more priority and navigation within the game and the lobby, and the selection is much smoother.”

More importantly, though, is the game count, which for 888 is more about quality not quantity. He noted the online casino currently accounts for about 60% to 70% of its New Jersey business.

“If you look at another product in the marketplace today, they offer four or five, 600 games,” said Sherman. “We’ve optimized our proposition from our experience. I mean beyond let’s say 200 games, the players tend to get lost.

“Our mission is to bring him content adaptive to what he’s interested in and also make it easier for him to find content. That’s what the system or the product is geared up toward. And in the back there are other benefits because it was structured in a web-friendly and mobile-friendly way.”

Games available to gamblers

That being said, 888 is quick to note that table and slot players will find there is plenty of variety built within the Orbit platform.

Here is a breakdown of some of the games currently available:

  • 239 slot games
  • 15 table games (some mobile only)
  • 13 live casino tables (8 blackjack, 2 roulette, 1 baccarat, and 2 poker)

The previous platform only offered two live dealer tables.

Some of the slot titles currently available are:

  • Triple Cash Wheel 
  • 88 Fortunes 
  • Irish Riches 
  • Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin 
  • Ghostbusters 
  • Monopoly Mega Movers 

888 separates itself from the competition by owning their own technology stack as well as its own product.

888 Poker upgrade in the works

Online casino may be more in the spotlight when it comes to NJ, but poker cannot be ignored.

Many may not realize that 888 Poker is currently the No. 1 poker website in the country. Besides having a self-branded platform, their software powers World Series of Poker events.

As an added plus, players can compete against others in Nevada and Delaware via interstate player pools.

Online poker sites, however, are not as prevalent in the Garden State.

While sportsbook apps and online casinos feature double-digit numbers, NJ online poker is a small market of just seven sites.

And on the revenue side of things, online poker is just a drop in the bucket in the online casino win of almost $40 million monthly.

At the same time, 888 is not holding out on its current poker site. Just like the online casino, the company plans or rolling out a new poker platform “[within] the next few months,” said Sherman.

At this point, they are ironing out some of the last technical details.

“So we’re going to roll that out as we develop it and get players’ reactions and adjust. But it’s going to be a whole new product and we’re very excited about that,” Sherman said.

“Really it’s the first major launch for 888 in the poker sphere since 2016 and in that time [there has been] lots of dramatic change in our positioning.”

NJ sports betting and 888 take two

On the other side of the casino/poker coin, however, is 888 Sport.

Flashback to about this time last year, and 888 was gearing up to get a piece of the NJ online sports betting pie.

The market was still in its infancy at the time; 888 was one of seven apps to go live in time for the start of football season.

The market has since doubled in size to 15, with several more apps expected to join the field soon.

But the 2018 NFL betting season served as a feeling-out period for 888 and others. Where other apps found their footing and took off like rockets, 888 stayed relatively quiet.

888’s Atlantic City partner, Bally’s/Caesars, posted online sportsbook revenues of $236,254 for the month of July. In June, revenue was just $26,752.

(The online revenue is a combination of 888 Sport and Caesars sportsbook).

In comparison, Meadowlands Racetrack reported $2,725,594 in revenue from online betting. The majority of that number is from FanDuel Sportsbook, but PointsBet NJ also contributed to it.

But Sherman said 888 is heading into the 2019 season more prepared. Thecompany, which has offices in Secaucus, also has a sponsorship deal with the New York Jets that Sherman said will help with brand recognition.

Now that the company has had some time to acclimate, the hope is that year two produces stronger returns.

“We hope it translates into more players and more activity,” Sherman said.

Promotions, promotions, promotions

One way of attracting new players is via promotions.

DraftKings, for instance, announced a no-brainer odds boost that the Eagles, Giants, or Jets would score a touchdown in Week 1 of the NFL.

888, which like DraftKings is powered by Kambi, continues to offer new customers up to a $500 deposit bonus, along with an exclusive $10 free bet.

With the field of operators still growing, figuring out ways to gain a bigger market share is tough, but not impossible.

Sherman provides a little teaser of what’s in the works:

“We’re looking at several interesting campaigns that we want to run in conjunction with the season,” said Sherman.

“… I think we’re trying to get to a point where we can offer some interesting prop bets and interesting events around that to attract new players. And as we did last [year], as many live events and markets as possible. We’re gonna offer some interesting promotions, not just around NFL, but also NFL and some corresponding casino content and poker.”

And it’s that cross-selling that might give 888 another edge in the market.

888 + cross-selling opportunities

Companies that are operating multiple platforms in NJ are taking full advantage of cross-selling to customers. The casino customers are trying sports for the first time and vice-versa.

The results are showing in the monthly online casino figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Year to date, the seven license holders have generated $256,775,046. It’s a 55.2% increase from the same period last year.

888, of course, has the additional advantage of having a standalone poker product in play.

“I mean, at the end of the day, I think the name of the game is trying to offer the player what’s the highest probability for him to play,” Sherman said.

“Sport naturally introduced a mass market opportunity here because by construction there are more people more inclined to place a sports bet than there are playing poker or casino.

“But we definitely see different appetites across different demographics and different databases. … We’ll try to put you in front of the widest possible variety of entertainment and games.”

Once the customer makes their choice, Sherman said it’s up to 888 to customize that experience so that it’s not just a one-size-fits-all mentality.

In the meantime, 888 has developed some very interesting AI capabilities for its casino and sports platform. After seeing great success in Europe, Sherman said the company will be rolling them out in the US in the near future.

About the Author

Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.