Sports Illustrated Inks Gambling Licensing Deal With 888 Holdings

·2 min read

Gambling operator 888 Holdings has reached an agreement to license the Sports Illustrated name for sports betting and casino games, according to someone familiar with the deal.

It’s the latest branding tie-up between an established gaming company and well-known sports media brand, a model used in partnerships between Stars Group and Fox (Fox Bet) and Penn Nation and Barstool (Barstool Sportsbook). 888 plans to launch SI Sportsbook, as the product will be called, by the start of the 2021 NFL season, according to the person, who was granted anonymity because the negotiations were private.

The exclusive deal, which runs for up to 20 years, has three main components, the person said. There’s an upfront licensing fee paid to SI owner Authentic Brands Group, additional payments based on performance metrics, and an equity offering. Authentic Brands will receive a 4.9% stake in 888’s consumer-facing U.S. business with options to buy up to nearly 20% at future dates.

Representatives for both 888 Holdings, which is based in Gibraltar, and Authentic Brands didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The deal was first reported by Bloomberg.

As sports betting continues to spread across the U.S., established media brands have become a popular partnership target for sportsbooks looking to grow their market share. The media company provides the content and the name recognition, while the gaming operators brings the back-end tech and infrastructure.

Sports Illustrated, which was purchased by Authentic Brands in 2019, is published by Maven Media. While this deal is with Authentic Brands, there could be content integrations that include Sports Illustrated editorial, the person said.

888 Holdings is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. The company had $849.7 million in revenue in 2020, with about 70% of that ($586.8 million) coming from casino products and 14% ($122.1 million) from sports betting.

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