888 Gaming is one of the biggest names in the world of online gambling, perhaps rivalling even NetEnt in terms of brand recognition.
The main way that 888 Gaming (also known as 888 Holdings, or simply 888) has secured this position at the top is by spending over two decades covering as many different corners of the market as possible, ensuring that there are very few corners of the industry, no matter how obscure, that dont have 888s fingerprints on them somewhere.
About 888 Holdings
888 Holdings operate numerous online casino and bingo sites. As well as the obvious, 888 Casino, 888 Ladies, 888 Poker, 888 Sport, and so on, there is also a myriad of sites under the 888 banner which do not display the branding, including the hugely popular Wink Bingo, as well as 777 Casino, and many others.
Launched way back in 1997, under the name Virtual Holdings Limited, the original flagship product from what would become 888, was Casino On Net (which now redirects to 888 Casino), an online casino which existed almost at the beginning of the industrys existence, which was followed by Reef Club Casino in 2002.
It was when Reef Club Casino hit the market that the name change to 888 occurred, and this is the brand that has become widely known around the world.
In 2017, 888 Holdings was one of several operators that found themselves on the wrong side of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the regulator for all gambling operators offering products within the UK, regardless of where they are based.
While 888 was only one of many to be fined during 2017, it hit the headlines hard for all the wrong reasons, when a record penalty package of £7.8 million was doled out by the UKGC due to serious failings in its handling of vulnerable customers.
The issues that were found were undoubtedly serious, including more than 7,000 customers who had self-excluded from 888s casinos still being able to access their accounts at 888 Bingo.
The problem went undetected for some time, resulting in £3.5 million being wagered by players who had opted for self-exclusion.
The second reason for the fine came as a result of 888s failings to spot visible signs of gambling addiction from a customer.
The customer, who ultimately staked well over £1 million, including £55,000 stolen from their employer, had made several large bets and gambled for hours every day.
There was limited interaction between 888 and the player despite these clear warning signs, which the UKGC said raised serious concerns about the safeguards in place at 888.
Speaking at the time, then CEO of the UKGC, Sarah Harrison, said:
Safeguarding consumers is not optional. This penalty package of just under £8 million reflects the seriousness of 888s failings to protect vulnerable customers. The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected dont lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learnt.
Obviously, while this was not the end of 888 by any stretch, there was definitely some damage done to the companys reputation, something that has had to be rebuilt in the time since.
This has clearly been happening, with 888 enjoying growth in various jurisdictions, including the booming US industry.
The expansion in the US was aided by a deal struck at the end of 2018 that saw 888 buy out its partner in the All-American Poker Network (AAPN) joint venture, giving the company full control over the network.
The remaining 53% of AAPN was purchased from Avenue Capital by 888 for a total cash consideration of 28 million, the two had co-owned AAPN since 2013.
The software from 888 Holdings is all developed by Dragonfish, which was formally known as Random Logic.
Dragonfish, as with the majority of software developers in the modern era, focuses most of its attention on slot games, but that is not all that is on offer.
Through Dragonfish, 888 also offer bingo games, and a variety of table games, including baccarat, blackjack, poker, and roulette, with several forms of these popular casino games also being available in a live casino environment.
Top 888 Games
While Dragonfish created slot games may not be as adored as those by NetEnt and other big name providers, due to a reputation for being more miss than hit, the developer can nail it sometimes.
One such example is Millionaire Genie, a progressive jackpot slot that was launched in 2013 and enjoys the level of popularity as Microgaming and NetEnt progressives.
With five reels and 15 paylines, Millionaire Genie offers crisp, impressive graphics, even if the concept is not the most unique.
Beyond that, there are a few slots in the 888 collection that have found a decent number of fans, including Blankety Blank, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Evangelion, Freaky Fruit, and more.
888 may be a big name in the industry, but much of this is down to the companys work as an operator, when it comes to software development, the number of games is smaller than the portfolios you will find offered by the giants of the industry, and the games that are there often dont stand up against the competition.
There is no doubt that 888 Gaming has earned its place as one of the best known brands in the industry, and the ability to recover from the devastating fine in 2016 is proof of that, but as a developer, its pretty middle of the pack.
While the likes of Millionaire Genie do stand out, and there is certainly the potential for more exciting and impressive games to come out of the Dragonfish studio and buck the trend entirely, it doesnt feel likely at any time soon.
It feels like 888 has found its level when it comes to games, and its a level the developer seems to be content with.