Steve Ruddock

888 is the predominant operator in the three legal United States markets. In two of those markets, Nevada and Delaware, the company has a veritable monopoly, and if they complete their purchase of bwin.party they can move New Jersey into their monopoly column, at least for the time being.

888 is also making inroads in future online gaming markets, as the company has entered into agreements with brick and mortar casinos in both Pennsylvania and California, according to testimony by All American Poker Network CEO David Licht in April.

The All American Poker Network (AAPN) is a joint venture between Avenue Capital and 888 Holdings designed to set up online poker networks in the U.S., both interstate and intrastate.

Bay 101 partnership secured

During a hearing in April, Licht told the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee the AAPN had a contract in place with Mount Airy Casino in Pennsylvania, as well as Bay 101 in California, “if and when there is legislation.”

Interestingly, left unsaid by Licht is the suspected partnership with Harrah’s Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and Harrah’s Rincon in California. It’s unclear if this omission is a signal that the current status of the Caesars/888 partnership isn’t as airtight as we suspect, or if these partnerships were left unsaid because they are a “given.”

Definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Partnership with Rincon anticipated

There hasn’t been an official announcement, but as noted above, it would be extremely surprising if 888 wasn’t the chosen online poker platform for the Rincon tribe’s casino located just outside of San Diego. Or, if Harrah’s Philadelphia in Pennsylvania went in a different direction for that matter.

In New Jersey and Nevada, 888 has partnered with Caesars Entertainment. With Caesars operating Rincon’s Harrah’s Resort Southern California, 888 is expected to be the online poker platform the casino turns to.

Harrah’s Rincon would likely be 888’s flagship online poker site in California, and would likely launch with the WSOP.com brand, whereas Bay 101 will likely launch a self-branded online poker room using 888’s software.

That being said, it’s highly likely Bay 101 and Rincon will pool their player base to form an intrastate online poker network.

Potential card room partners for 888

California has dozens upon dozens of card rooms, and if any are interested in launching online poker platforms, and with their vast experience in regulated U.S. markets 888 would be a good fit.

Club One Casino and Hustler Casino are two of the top card room free agents remaining, but thus far, only six card rooms have officially partnered with an online poker provider, so there are endless possibilities for 888.

Here are the currently known card room partnerships:

  • Bicycle Casino – PokerStars
  • Commerce Casino – PokerStars
  • Hawaiian Gardens Casino – PokerStars
  • Oceans 11 Casino – Churchill Downs Interactive
  • Crystal Casino – Churchill Downs Interactive
  • Bay 101 Casino – 888

Potential tribal partners for 888

There are also a number of tribes expected to be involved with online poker that have yet to declare partnerships with online poker platform providers. From heavy hitters like Pechanga and Agua Caliente to Sycuan and Viejas, 888 has plenty of potential partners on the tribal front as well.

Still, one tribe seems like a better candidate than the others: United Auburn Indian Community.

UAIC is currently partnered with bwin.party, but bwin.party is set to be sold to 888 unless a second suitor, GVC Holdings, can come in with a new offer that wows their socks off.

If 888 lands bwin.party, it’s quite likely UAIC will scrap their plans with PartyPoker and join 888’s growing list of California online poker partners. Although, I wouldn’t discount UAIC moving on to PokerStars either.

Steve Ruddock
Steve Ruddock - Steve is one of the most recognizable names in the online poker media space. He brings his deep knowledge and equally deep well of opinions to his coverage at CaliforniaOnlinePoker.com.