888 Holdings Announces Sale Of US Assets To Hard Rock Digital

Erik Gibbs

The Hard Rock sign outside one of Hard Rock's properties.

Following a tumultuous couple of years, global online gaming operator 888 Holdings is ready to make some changes. It recently announced the sale of some of its U.S. consumer-facing online gaming assets to Hard Rock Digital, setting in motion a transformation of the company.

This strategic move comes as 888 Holdings, soon to be known as Evoke, aims to streamline its operations and refocus on its core markets. The decision to divest these assets aligns with the company’s broader restructuring efforts under the leadership of new CEO Per Widerström.

Over the past few years, 888 Holdings has faced a series of financial challenges. The company’s shares plummeted following revelations of internal compliance issues and subsequent fines for failing to adhere to anti-money-laundering practices.

The company reported total revenue of £1.71 billion ($2.16 billion) for the year ending Dec. 31, 2023. This represents an 8% decrease from the previous year’s revenue of £1.85 billion ($2.33 billion). The fourth quarter of 2023 saw a revenue of £424 million ($535.93 million), a year-on-year decline of 7%.

Additionally, the acquisition of William Hill’s non-U.S. operations in 2022 significantly increased the company’s debt burden, further straining its financial stability. In response to these challenges, 888 Holdings embarked on a comprehensive review of its operations, leading to a series of cost-saving measures and a renewed focus on key markets in Europe.

The decision to exit the U.S. B2C market by the fourth quarter of 2024 marks a significant shift in its business operations. This move, which follows a comprehensive review initiated earlier in the year, is anticipated to enhance the company’s adjusted core profit by approximately £25 million ($31.6 million) annually from 2025.

Hard Rock undergoes growth spurt

The sale to Hard Rock Digital, a subsidiary of Hard Rock International known for its entertainment venues, restaurants, and hotels, has been expanding its footprint in the digital space. Hard Rock Digital’s goal is to offer online gaming experiences that resonate with the Hard Rock brand’s ethos.

Hard Rock Digital offers a variety of entertainment options across several states. Its offerings include online sports betting and online casino games through Hard Rock Bet. The sportsbook is now live in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. The casino operates in New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The company has also expanded its reach by launching Hard Rock Games, a social gaming platform with an array of free-to-play casino games.

Gambling on a name change for improvement

Widerström’s appointment as CEO of 888 in July of last year marked a new chapter for the company. It brings with it a clear mandate to overhaul the operational model and navigate the company through its current financial complexities.

The rebranding of 888 Holdings to Evoke, announced in March, reflects a strategic pivot toward a multi-brand model. It will capitalize on automation and artificial intelligence to drive efficiency and cost savings. The rebranding is a strategic move that Widerström explains will reflect the company’s multi-brand model. He adds that it’s also aligned with a broader Value Creation Plan.

The transition to Evoke plc is not just a change in name. It’s part of a comprehensive strategy laid out by Widerström to focus on core markets in the U.K., Italy, Spain, and Denmark. The proposed name change is pending shareholder approval at the annual general meeting scheduled for later this year.