A well-known licensed bookmaker, 888, will cease operations in Russia on 1 October 2021. The website 888.ru is currently displaying an announcement about the termination of operations. As of 20 September, the company is not accepting any bets and only offers to withdraw money from accounts by 23 September.
The official reason for the company’s departure from the Russian market hasn’t yet been announced. But, according to experts, one of the reasons for the departure may be the start of the Unified Gambling Regulator – the agency will start operating from 1 October. Apart from close monitoring of all licensed gambling sites in the country, it also means a double increase in targeted deductions to sports leagues and federations – bookmakers must now pay the state 30m rubles every quarter.
On 10 September 2021 it was reported that 888 was leaving the Russian betting market exclusively. However, 888 Holdings remains on the list of the largest betting companies in the virtual space. Outside the Russian market, the holding company is actively developing, as evidenced by the deal it made to buy British rival William Hill.
Through the acquisition of the competitor’s business, 888 Holdings will expand its field of activity from online to offline, as it will acquire the physical betting shops of William Hill. The competitor’s business currently has around 1,400 land-based betting shops in the UK, Italy, Spain and Scandinavian countries.
The deal is valued at $3bn, while the market capitalization of 888 Holdings is $2.1bn. To make the purchase, the owners of the holding company have applied for loans from banks.