888 to Launch Sports Book in Q1 2010

Online gambling and entertainment group 888 has announced they will be partnering with Rank and Blue Square to launch a 888-branded sports book early next year. Reuters quoted industry sources as saying the official announcement would be made on Monday.

Under the terms of the deal, Rank’s Blue Square sports book will calculate the odds for the 888.com branded site and, in return, 888 will provide Blue Square with its advanced payment processing platform.

On the back of what has already been a bumper year for 888 as it strives to rebuild following the UIGEA last year, this news should result in yet another increase in the share price when trading recommences on Monday. Following last week’s impressive trading update, shares in 888 (LSE: 888.L) closed 6% higher on Friday at 130.50p.

The new sports book will be a valuable addition to the 888 network, which already includes a popular online casino (Casino-on-Net) and bustling online poker room (Pacific Poker).

888 CEO Gigi Levy said last month his company would launch its sports betting operations by the end of the year. Reuters quoted their source as saying:
“We expect a pan-European launch in Q1 2010 before also going to other countries as well.”

888 is also launching aggressive marketing campaigns in the UK to take advantage of the recently relaxed rules allowing online gaming companies to advertise in the mainstream market. A new campaign telling Brits to “Enjoy the Game” will be plastered across both sides of taxicabs in four major UK cities: London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

Along with external branding, the interiors of the cabs will also include tip-up seats and passengers will be given branded 888 receipts. Certain taxis will be driven by dedicated 888 players.