The world’s largest online casino unveiled plans today to float on the stock market and cash in on the flurry of investor interest in internet gaming.
888 Holdings will follow the example of poker giant PartyGaming by listing its shares with a total value expected to be around €1m.
The firm owns 888.com and websites that attract more visitors than rival online casino operators and the flotation will bring a windfall for its two controlling Israeli families.
Avi and Aharon Shaked are said to own about 70% of the company in a family trust, with the Ben-Yitzak family holding 30%.
888 Holdings sought to ease the fears of investors who were put off the PartyGaming float because of concerns aout the legality of online gaming in the United States by pointing out that 45% of its customers live outside that country.
Instead, it drew attention to the potential rewards from online gaming where the market is expected to turn over $12bn (€9.72bn) this year and double this amount by 2010.
More than 20 million people are registered to use its portfolio of websites that also include Casino-on-Net, Reef Club Casino and Pacific Poker.
Casino-on-Net allows customers to play on a private table, a public table or on a group table with up to two friends, and players can communicate with each other during the game using a “chat box”.
John Anderson, chief executive of 888 and a former Ladbrokes director, said the flotation would help build a war chest for the company to make acquisitions.
He said: “Today’s announcement marks an important step in our goal to become the market leader in the global online gaming entertainment industry and will enable us to increase further our brand profile, recognition and credibility.”
The company will be chaired by Marie Stevens who has previously been a member of the Gaming Board for Great Britain and general counsel for Ladbrokes owner Hilton.