Thorough History of 888.com
In the mid-1990s the online casino industry was just getting started, so it was perfect timing for these two sets of brothers to jump on the bandwagon. There were a number of new companies starting up, offering gambling services, and using technology that had never been seen before. Many of the companies didn't have what it took to survive, but 888 Holdings certainly did.
Today, they can be found on the London Stock Exchange and are a multi-billion dollar empire. The 888 brand is an excellent option for all online gamblers, as it includes core gambling products: 888bingo, 888casino, 888poker, and 888sport. Please continue reading for more information on the history of the website we know today as 888.com.
Before we get started with company details, we have to introduce you to the brothers that made everything possible. Avi and Aaron Shaked were born in Netanya, Israel. Avi attended Ben Gurion University in Beersheba and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Aaron, the younger of the two brothers, attended dentistry school for a couple years but never graduated.
As a student, it was his responsibility to attend a specified number of conferences that often took place in a casino in Monte Carlo. The first conference he went to was actually the first time he entered a casino, immediately falling in love with the atmosphere, but was disappointed when he realized it would probably be another year before he could visit again. Aaron wondered if there was a way that he and his brother could develop a virtual casino, so that he wouldn't have to wait so long in between visits.
They worked day and night, trying to create the online casino website which would later develop into the 888.com website we love today. Almost immediately, the brothers ran into a string of problems because neither of them were experts in gambling or had even been gambling for very long for that matter.
The brothers spent the next several months at local casinos, learning a variety of different games and taking notes on all the aspects of a brick and mortar casino that they could try to incorporate in order to ensure that their site would create an atmosphere as similar to a real casino as possible. There still seemed to be something missing, so they decided to seek out some old friends of theirs: the Yitzhak brothers.
Ben Yitzhak Brothers
Shay Yitzhak, the older of the two brothers, graduated from the Israel Institute of Technology with a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. Shay would be essential to the further development of the company because he knew how to write the software and would be able to fix any glitches they would come across.
Ron, his younger brother, was also very important to the furthering success of the company, but for completely different reasons. Ron truly knew how to play most casino games and had a complex understanding as to what players were looking for in a game. It was actually while gambling at various casinos in the area that Ron was first introduced to the Shaked brothers.
After playing for several months and building a relationship with the Shaked brothers, they invited the Yitzhak bothers to join a partnership with them in creating this online virtual casino. After a settlement was reached, all four men agreed to remortgage their homes in order to have the necessary funds to get their business off the ground.
Virtual Holding Limited
Towards the beginning of 1997, Holdings Limited was officially established in the British Virgin Islands. Prior to that the company obtained a gaming license in Antigua where they set up an office so that they could base all of its management, gaming servers, member support functions, and technical support there.
In May, 1997, under the newly established Virtual Holdings Limited, they innovatively developed, Casino-on-Net, which would set the stage for 888.com. The following year, the company opened Random Logic Limited in Tel-Aviv, Israel to provide a research, development, and marketing team for what would later be known as 888 Holdings. It took the company about five years until it came out with its second casino website, Reef Club Casino, which officially was launched in June 2002 and was a completely renovated version of the old one.
888 Holdings Was Established
Later in 2002, the company finally launched its 888.com brand, which is a popular website to this day. This site stood out among the rest even then because it was one of the only sites that offered a multi-player online poker room which they named, Pacific Poker. They also established an additional marketing office that year named, Virtual Marketing Services Limited, so they could start advertising in the United Kingdom.
In July 2003, 888 Holdings obtained a gaming license in Gibraltar, which was a smart decision on their part because their taxes were significantly lower than what they were paying in Antigua. 888's headquarters along with their gaming and deposit servers were all moved to Gibraltar almost immediately. Later that year to celebrate their new move, 888 launched an updated version of Casino-on-Net.com, which was ultimately a huge success.
About two years later, the Chief Executive of 888 Holdings at the time, John Anderson, believed it was time to start taking steps towards increasing the value of the company. By September, he got his wish as all of its shares were now listed on the London Stock Exchange.
One part of the mission statement they have on their current website explains how dedicated they are to their shareholders,
"Our strategy is to increase shareholders' value through achieving profitable growth both organically, through the acquisition and retention of valuable players and partners, and through strategic acquisitions."
The 888 casino is an online gambling site that was officially launched by 888 Holdings in 2006. The site provides online casino games in both a downloadable and instant play format for personal computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. The 888 casino offers traditional casino games to play online including classic table games such as blackjack, roulette, poker, and various slot games. It's available in twenty-three different languages for customer's convenience.
The 888 Live Casino tables offer real-time casino games hosted by a live casino dealer, with the option of choosing between having a male or female dealer. Games are streamed via a live cam streaming link and players place their bets and chat with their dealer via their computer screen.
A regular 888 casino "dealer" is actually operated by the use of a Random Number Generator (RGN). The program has been rigorously tested by running millions of rounds and examining results to make sure the program is truly unbiased.
The 888 casino also publishes an independently audited monthly Casino Payout Percentage and includes the Payout Percentage of each 888.com game, as well as the total average Payout Percentage of 888.com. 888 Holdings believes in running an honest operation, which is why they reveal this information to their customers.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006
Everything seemed to be going great for 888 Holdings until the United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act on September 29th, 2006 which prohibited any gambling related transactions to and from US based customers. This was devastating news to the gambling industry as a whole.
888 Holdings took it particularly hard because they had recently launched an entirely new casino product with a new graphics, new industry leading video-slot machines, and promotion features, which we explained in more detail above. These updates should have guaranteed a yearly profit growth, but instead the company suffered serious financial losses in result of having to close their doors to all US customers.
To compensate for their major financial losses, 888.com considered merging with Ladbrokes, one of the United Kingdom's largest gambling organizations. However, in 2007 the two companies announced that they had unanimously agreed not to pursue that, partially because they weren't sure how the United States government would react and partially due to the increase tax rate in the United Kingdom.
Continuing to Expand
Dragonfish was established as 888's B2B division in 2007, to provide partnerships with other gaming facilities. It was designed to help both of those new to the online gambling market and for those who are interested in updating their existing operations. Dragonfish can provide you with excellent resources and contacts within the industry, plus it looks into markets you can reach, both locally and globally.
888 decided that in order to overcome their financial losses, they needed to expand into a different market, which explains their purchase of the bingo assets from Globalcom Limited in 2007. They launched the 888ladies Bingo in February 2008, an instant sensation due to its innovative social qualities, which is something most bingo players long for. It was also around this time that 888.com added blackjack games and video slots to their offered games list, making them a well-rounded company.
The following year, 888 took another risk and launched 888sport, a sportsbetting page that allows their customers to bet on a variety of sports from football to cricket. 888 Holdings updated their Dragonfish division, with it now offering total gaming services including a fully personalized marketing and electronic payment services.
In 2009, 888 Holdings acquired Wink Online Bingo and Reef Club Casino, marketing it as a recession-friendly place to make bets, offering deals for those who were struggling financially. Their popularity continued to grow and it wasn't long before 888.com was voted the Best Casino Operator of the Year and Best Overall Online Gaming Operators.
Where the Founders are Today
The Yitzhak brothers decided that they were going to sell a substantial amount of their shares of the company back in 2006. The pair went from owning 17% of the company to only owning 11% of it. It was at this time that Ron left the company for good to enjoy an early retirement and more quality time with his friends and family. Shay, however, stepped down to become a non-executive member of the board and stayed with the company until 2010, when he decided it was time for retirement.
Avi Shaked stepped back from the daily operations of the business in order to aid in the establishment of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. It was his idea to create the Geneva Convention, which is where two nations can discuss their problems peacefully.
Aaron Shaked partnered up with his daughter to establish, Clean Tech Technologies, a trusted medical device supplier for Dentist offices all over the world. In January, 2010, his daughter inherited all rights to their company, as he passed away in his sleep at age fifty-eight. We are thankful for Ron, Shay, Avi, and Aaron for their innovative ideas that helped make 888.com the victorious operation that it is today.
Current Leaders within the Company
Brian Mattingley, 63, took the position of Executive Chairman in May, 2015 after serving three years as the Chief Executive Officer.
Aviad Kobrine, 51, became Chief Financial Officer in June, 2005. Prior to that, he was a banker at the Media Telecoms Investment Banking Group.
Itai Frieberger, 44, was hired by the company to become their Chief Operating Officer in April, 2011. He continues to serve as the Managing Director of the Group's Israeli subsidiary, Random Logic Ltd, which he had been doing for several years before the promotion.
All three men are part of 888 Holdings Board of Directors and all major decisions need to be approved by the board before they can come to fruition.
More Recent Developments for 888
888 Holdings continues to develop relationships with a wide range of companies; it also is trying to diversify and improve its various products and platforms. It's currently one of the front runners in the US market and it's currently the third largest online, in terms of the number of active players.
In March 2013, the Nevada Gaming Commission granted 888 an online license to become an Interactive Gaming Service Provider, enabling 888 to become the first company uniquely providing online gaming by a US jurisdiction.
In August 2013, 888.com signed an agreement with Caesars Interactive Entertainment through the group's All American Poker Network stating that 888 could offer their own brand of poker and casino products in the state of New Jersey. They advertise that you may make a deposit from anywhere in the United States but you may only play for real money when you are in New Jersey.
In 2014, 888 Holdings turned down an offer of $1.1 billion from someone who was very interested in buying out the company. Offers on the company continue to pour in because their value keeps increasing, more recently thanks to the sites latest mobile compatibility update. Slowly but surely online gambling is reaching its way back into the United States with four of the five legal gambling websites available today being proudly operated by 888.
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: June 2015
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