Sports Illustrated Plans 2021 US Sportsbook Launch With 888 Holdings

  • The magazine publisher will launch its sportsbook in Colorado this year, followed by other states
  • SI parent company ABG has formed a partnership with 888 Holdings to develop the sportsbook
  • 888 said the new partnership will provide a “platform for strong growth” as it expands in the US
  • Outside of the US, 888 is supposedly interested in the sale of William Hill’s international assets
Man betting on a mobile sportsbook
After forming an exclusive partnership with 888 Holdings, Sports Illustrated is planning to launch its new US sportsbook this year in Colorado. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

SI delves into sports betting

Magazine publisher Sports Illustrated (SI) is ready to enter the US’s fast-growing sports betting market. The company has announced plans to launch a new sportsbook this year in partnership with operator 888 Holdings.

world-class online sportsbook”

In a statement on its website Wednesday, SI said it will launch the “world-class online sportsbook” in Colorado this year. Other states will then follow at a later date, although the company has not suggested which these will be. The publisher confirmed the news on its official Twitter page later that day:

SI parent company Authentics Brands Group (ABG) announced an exclusive partnership with 888 Holdings on Wednesday. As part of the deal, the operator will develop SI’s sports betting and iGaming products in the US.

Commenting this week, ABG founder, chairman, and CEO Jamie Salter expressed excitement over the upcoming launch. “We are thrilled to announce that Sports Illustrated is entering the online sports betting and iGaming space,” he stated. The executive described 888 as an operator with “outstanding technology, products, and marketing capabilities.” 

A strategic partnership for 888

In a Wednesday press release on its website, 888 Holdings described the deal with SI as a “strategic partnership” that will help provide the company with a “platform for strong growth in the US.” Under the terms of the agreement, ABG will grant 888 exclusive license for the use of SI brand and trademarks, in addition to advertising rights on select digital assets.

Rumors of the plans between SI and 888 first emerged in April this year. However, ABG has made clear its desire to enter the US’s burgeoning betting market since 2020. As reported by the New York Post, the company was already speaking with multiple gambling companies regarding a potential licensing deal in August last year.

888 CEO Itai Pazner commented on the upcoming launch this week. He said: “We are excited about the potential to deliver our cutting-edge, proprietary sportsbook platform into the market, providing Sports Illustrated fans with a first-class betting and gaming experience.” Pazner said the partnership will provide 888 with access to “millions of engaged sports fans across the US.”

In tandem with the sportsbook launch this fall, SI has announced it will also provide coverage of the sports betting space, including a gambling-themed edition of its famous magazine. On its digital platform, the company will launch an array of betting information, data, tools, stories and insight.

International expansion plans

In addition to its expansion in the US, 888 also reportedly has its sights set on opportunities in Europe. Pazner confirmed the company’s interest in the non-US assets of William Hill in an interview with The Times in March. Since then, Caesars Entertainment has completed its takeover of the UK-based operator and confirmed that it intends to sell its international assets.

could announce a buyer at some point in the second half of 2021

Caesars expect to initiate the sale process of William Hill’s 1,400 UK betting shops and online wagering business this quarter. The Vegas-based company could announce a buyer at some point in the second half of 2021. 888 is among several companies rumored to be considering a deal.

In a recent note, James Wheatcroft, an investment banking analyst for Jefferies, has said a William Hill acquisition would give 888 “a double-digit earnings per share boost and be followed by a re-rating due to increased scale and diversification.” He urged investors to buy 888 stock ahead of any deal.

In addition to 888, Irish sportsbook operator BoyleSports revealed that it is considering purchasing William Hill’s UK betting shops this week. Meanwhile, Ladbrokes owner Entain has also expressed an interest in the retail assets.