Authentic Brands Group and 888 Holdings will have a joint venture – SI Sportsbook – to launch in the Colorado market later this year. The plan is to expand to as many as 10 states – and possibly to Canada – soon.
The 20-year online gambling joint venture – which includes casino games – will then expand to more states, according to 888. The British gambling group said they have market access to New Jersey, Indiana, and Iowa.
Authentic Brands Group – the parent company of Sports Illustrated – is a New York-based brand management company.
“We are excited to announce that Sports Illustrated is entering the digital sports betting iGaming space,” Jamie Salter, ABG founder, and CEO said. “888 is one of the leaders in online sports betting and gaming across the world and has outstanding technology,” products and marketing capabilities.”
In 2019, Authentic Brands purchased Sports Illustrated – an American sports magazine published by Maven Media.
888 Holdings is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Key Details of the Deal
The two entities will form a joint venture – SI Sportsbook – which will take a 4.99% equity stake, per a deal presentation. After launching first in the Colorado sports betting market later in 2021, SI is expected to expand to 10 other markets by 2022-23.
888 acquires an exclusive license for the use of the SI brand and trademarks for mobile betting and iGaming. It also gets exclusive advertising and editorial integration rights on SI digital assets.
The ABG-888 joint venture – SI Sportsbook – will be launched on the British company’s in-house sportsbook platform which has yet to debut in the United States.
Other plans include additional sports betting-related information, tools, and insight on SI.com, and roll out a gambling-themed issue of the magazine in August.
What’s in it for ABG?
The 20-year deal gives upfront licensing fees to Authentic Brands Group, and additional performance-based affiliate fees.
SI owners can also purchase an additional 5% stake in the joint venture for $15 million, and an additional 5% stake for $25 million.
The joint venture between the American and British companies can expand to Canada sports betting – where the legalization process is underway.
What’s in it for 888?
For 888 Holdings, partnering with the American sports magazine would be like a dream come true. The UK-based group is already a recognized iGaming entity, known for its online casino and poker brands in the United States.
But 888 had no sportsbook in the US market, which has seen unprecedented growth in the industry since the PASPA was struck down in May 2018.
Realizing the significance of this joint venture, 888 CEO Itai Pazner said “this is kind of the missing piece in our American puzzle,” which he said would give 888 the local brand it was missing. He said it would also give the British gambling company access to a huge audience, and the opportunity to communicate with the audience on an ongoing basis.
Last December, 888 had announced it would be launching in Colorado, Indiana, and Iowa for sports betting in 2021. The company has struck recent partnerships in all three states to materialize its plans accordingly.
Another Gaming Company Partnering Another Media Brand
It’s an old story but still worth telling. The partnerships between a gaming company and a recognized sports media brand have become a formidable model in recent times. In the past, Stars Group and Fox (Fox Bet) and Penn Nation and Barstool (Barstool Sportsbook) did so with considerable success.
As sports betting has continued to spread across more and more US states, renowned media brands have become a major focus of sportsbook companies. The media company provides the content and name, while the operators provide the technological support.
Pazner said the agreement will provide 888 access to “millions of engaged sports fans across the US, giving it a high-volume and cost-effective customer acquisition channel.”
The latest joint venture – SI – is expected to launch by the start of the upcoming NFL season.