888sport Shuts Down in New Jersey, Will Return Under Sports Illustrated Brand

  • 888 pulled its betting product from New Jersey on Wednesday with no advance warning
  • Customers can withdraw their balances or transfer them to other 888 gaming platforms
  • 888 plans to return to New Jersey as the Sports Illustrated-branded SI Sportsbook
  • The site has lagged behind the competition in the Garden State
smartphone showing 888sport logo sitting on an RGB-lit keyboard
888sport suddenly ended operations in New Jersey on Wednesday, but plans to return in 2022 under the SI Sportsbook name. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Closed with no warning

888sport, the sports betting arm of gambling giant 888 Holdings, has pulled out of the New Jersey market. The site gave no immediate reason for Wednesday’s sudden decision – the shutdown was effective immediately – but in appears that it is simply a move in preparation for the launch of its Sports Illustrated-branded SI Sportsbook.

888sport New Jersey is no longer accepting any more bets

Customers were greeted with an unexpected message upon visiting 888sport this past Wednesday, which said that 888sport New Jersey is no longer accepting any more bets. Open bets are still valid and active, so users need not worry that their unresolved bets will be cancelled.

Players can still login to their accounts to withdraw their balances. Customers can also transfer funds to 888poker or 888casino if they so choose.

More recognizable sports brand

Though 888sport’s surprise withdrawal from New Jersey was mysterious, 888 did provide some clarification to media outlets later. John Atkinson, 888’s US director of business development, issued a statement to the press trumpeting the success of SI Sportsbook in Colorado, which uses 888’s technology.

He added: “We are now focused on launching SI Sportsbook in other states, including New Jersey, and are excited to share more details in the coming weeks and months.”

888 launched SI Sportsbook in Colorado in early September, just in time for the start of the NFL season. It is the venerable sports magazine’s first foray into the world of sports betting. It is a way for Sports Illustrated to generate a new source of revenue, as the once epitome of sports journalism and photography has dwindled in the internet age. Slow to catch up to online sports news, SI has been unable to become the name on the internet that it was in print. It used to publish a print magazine every week; it switched to once every two weeks a few years ago.

Tough competition in New Jersey

Though 888sport was one of the first online sportbooks in New Jersey, launching in September 2018, it has had trouble establishing its footing in the Garden State. In a state loaded with online sportsbooks and handle/revenue records being set seemingly every month, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that 888sport only has about 1% of the market.

The site is not particularly highly regarded, though that should not come as much of a surprise, considering how low it is on the totem pole. Prolific professional sports bettor Captain Jack Andrews said of 888sport, “They won’t be missed,” though it does not appear that he knew the site was coming back as SI at the time he tweeted that.

It is unknown if anything will change with the sportsbook when it returns aside from the branding. It is unlikely to draw any sharps if it is just a cosmetic change. The idea could be to use the Sports Illustrated brand to attract casual bettors who trust the name, in addition to consolidating branding across states.