In a notorious week of desperate attempts to make room on a bursting ICE London schedule, CasinoBeats to zoom again. Everyone's the best friend or the best enemy lately.
While the darkness of the early evening covers northern England, it is afternoon on the east coast of the USA where our youngest guest, Yaniv Sherman, SVP and head of the USA at 888waiting.
The online gambling giant made clear its intentions in the US with a plethora of market access deals for Colorado, Indiana and Iowa at the peak of 2020, followed by a multi-year extension of its exclusive B2B poker partnership Caesars Interactive Entertainment.
In a turbulent year, Sherman made no secret of the belief that the “strong momentum” built by investing in the product, technology and people was particularly supportive of the company.
"It's a great way to be more aggressive, especially in the US," he notes, promising a number of other updates that are currently under negotiation. "So it was definitely a good series of investments that marked the momentum with which we went into 2021."
"…Poker was likely the biggest casualty, according to the DOJ's opinion in 2018.
In terms of momentum, which is again hailed as "extremely important", Sherman addresses a structural shift to online where 888 remains "very well positioned" to capitalize as a purely digital player.
Assessing the constant growth trends throughout the year as opposed to the notoriously strong Q4 and Q1, Sherman commented, “We've seen significant growth even in our largest industries like casino and sports and of course poker, which have enjoyed some of the resurgence as an entertainment destination .
“People have rediscovered poker and I think the combination between the three is key. Our ability to provide a consistent experience for our players has been our product tentpole, and we have only increased our investment in the product through 2020 and also through 2021. So it's been a year full of products and we're excited to capitalize on it. "
Therefore, attention is drawn to the January First Circuit ruling on the Wire Act, which clarified that the legislation only continues to exist to prevent the occurrence of interstate online sports betting.
That decision overrode the U.S. Department of Justice's efforts in 2018 to criminalize a broad area of the gambling sector when it reinterpreted the law to include all forms of mobile gambling.
“We are advocates of gambling in general. Remember that we have been in the market since 2013. In 2018, in late 2017, when Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada signed a joint poker agreement, we were there to support this initiative and to this day we are the only interstate poker network. And poker was probably the biggest casualty in 2018, according to the DOJ, ”Sherman explains.
"… W.We have always been involved in poker. We did not create our agenda on the assumption that this would happen. "
Sherman admits that although the verdict is unlikely, theoretically, it can still be challenged, and continues, “We hope this will calm things down, and now it paves the way for what we incorporated for one or an integral part of any US gambling agenda. ”
Commenting on future developments after this decision, he says, “Now poker will probably always be third leg, third place, but a podium winner of every gaming race, with sports and casino being bigger, but it's kind of a hen and No matter what.
“It will be a smaller market, but we expect it to be much less competitive due to the size and liquidity challenge in the poker business, and we know firsthand as a global poker operator that this is not a trivial thing.
“And we look and hope that regulators will pave the way for other states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states like West Virginia, states that will hopefully introduce games like Indiana and maybe even New York will soon join a large network that will help gamers would provide an experience like no other. "
Sherman kept the same theme and the potential of the aforementioned poker pact gained a number of significant developments, particularly in terms of population size. He further elaborated on 888's expectations regarding the Wire Act's decision and whether this was something the group had been actively waiting for.
"First, we've always been involved in poker. We didn't create our agenda on the assumption that this would happen," it said.
"…It's an integral part of US gaming culture that has been invested here. "
“We were hoping it would happen; it seemed like the logical thing. But again, given the situation it was in, we may have had to work on the assumption that this would be an isolated liquidity, at least initially. "
Added, “In short, this was not our predominant assumption, but we are building our infrastructure in the US with a flexibility to allow us to do so. We wanted to develop a solution that we would develop and present to various regulators that would allow us to scale and connect the different systems across the board and we were lucky enough to be able to offer it.
“Our tech team has been very effective in presenting this solution and I hope that it will actually determine the future of online poker in the US. So, from a product platform perspective, we've aligned ourselves with that, and I'm glad we are able to potentially benefit from it. "
In terms of pools of liquidity, Sherman is excited about the potential of new additions, citing Pennsylvania and Michigan as "major additions to such a network," the mainstays of the conversation.
"The USA is a poker country," he proudly emphasizes. "We kind of forget about that, but it's an integral part of US gaming culture that has been invested here."
“The numbers coming in from places like Michigan and Pennsylvania due to sports betting see enormous cross-selling potential. I see a lot of these players when football is over on Sunday, or even between games, or during games, American sporting events last three, three and a half hours at the end of the day. "
When engagement and the need for social interaction come up, Sherman brings in the group's Poker 8 product to build on its European success.
In addition to reactivating a "play with friends" function due to high demand, which was initially deactivated in 2019, Sherman refers to Poker 8 as "an even more social product" that could possibly also act as a complement to other interests.
“People are looking for other forms of entertainment, sports betting is one of them, but they can play our newest Poker 8 product, some of which are actually designed to be played with one hand as we assume that sometimes the second screen experience is already there took place has been very well received worldwide and is very well received in the USA. "