888 Ends Partnership For SI Sportsbook, Reviews US Operations

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Another sportsbook branded after a popular magazine of yesteryear will bite the dust as SI Sportsbook from 888 is no more.

London-listed 888 ended its partnership with Authentic Brands Group, the owner of the Sports Illustrated brand, on Wednesday. The sports betting agreement was ended on mutual terms but leaves 888 with $50 million in early termination fees.

888 will pay $25 million from cash on hand, with the other $25 million paid between 2027 and 2029. On the plus side, the termination saves $6 million to $7 million per year in 2024 and 2025.

888’s stock closed up 0.54% to 83.4 pence on Wednesday.

US review to continue

Ending the deal for the exclusive use of the Sports Illustrated brand is just one part of the news from 888.

The company is looking at alternatives for the entire US business, which includes iGaming in Michigan and New Jersey and sports betting in Colorado, Michigan and Virginia. Its sportsbook handle was routinely at or near the bottom in both Michigan and Virginia, the two states that report betting stats by operator.

Possibilities include shuttering the business or selling it in whole or in part.

“In the US, the intensity of competition and requirement for scale means huge investment is required to reach profitability,” said 888 CEO Per Widerström. “Our partnership with Authentic has consistently driven strong demand for the SI brand across both consumer experiences and product offerings.

“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.”

SI Sportsbook latest media brand to shutter

Sports Illustrated is the second pop culture magazine brand that did not translate to significant sports betting volume.

MaximBet announced it was closing in November 2022. It was one of the first casualties of a US sports betting market that became quickly dominated by operators looking for national scale.

The Sports Illustrated brand also took a credibility hit late last year after Futurism reported the brand created fake profiles for fake writers to be the authors of AI-generated content.

888 noted in December 2022 it was transitioning to focus on the “unsexy sweet spot” of the online gaming market: older men that like playing online casino.