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888 Exiting US Market, Ending Sports Illustrated Deal

888 Holdings is exiting the US sports betting market after a brief run that included a, now defunct, partnership with a legacy media brand. Company officials said this week that they will be ditching their deal with Sports Illustrated, packing up their bags, and heading back to England due to the hyper-competitive nature of regulated sports betting in America.

Sports Illustrated’s parent company Authentic Brands struck up a deal with the struggling sports magazine back in 2021 and launched the first SI sportsbook in Colorado in September of that same year. That arm of the operation spread to several other states, including Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia, and was somewhat successful. But officials at 888 Holdings say that intense competition and sky-high licensing and access fees make the US market untenable.

888 CEO Per Widerström explained the situation in comments reported on by Yahoo! Finance saying, “Since commencing my role as CEO I have been focused on ensuring the Group is set up to deliver strong value creation in the coming years. In the US, the intensity of competition and requirement for scale means huge investment is required to reach profitability. A series of record-breaking months for SI Casino has underscored the strength of the SI brand. However, despite these successes, we have concluded that achieving sufficient scale in the US market to generate positive returns within an accelerated timeframe is unlikely.”

Exiting the US online gambling market is going to cost 888 Holdings $50 million in termination fees. That money will be doled out in a $25 million payment this year and two more payments in 2027 and 2029.