888 Poker will give its poker client a significant overhaul in the months ahead, including in the four US markets regulated for online poker.
The new software will be called “Poker 8,” and it’s the first substantial upgrade for 888 since before Black Friday.
“We’re planning to launch by the end of the year probably our biggest product overhaul that [we have done in] the last six or seven years, called Poker 8,” Itai Pazner, 888’s COO told investors last week, which first reported the coming change.
While competitors Partypoker and PokerStars have been continually modernizing their poker platforms over the years, 888’s interface has remained essentially static. Pazner is promising a more “modern poker experience” with the update, including better graphics and a more functional lobby.
The company is also taking a page from the PokerStars’ playbook by attempting some poker innovation. Without giving away any details, 888 confirmed that it will also unveil a new poker variant called “Pik’em Poker.” PokerStars’ attempts at creating new games over the past year haven’t exactly been a hit.
The move to build an entirely new software platform arrives as the company is suffering a serious loss in global market share.
Coming off a 2017 fiscal year that witnessed 888 losing 16 percent of poker revenues, the outlook has since only grown bleaker.The first part of this year saw 888 struggling to meet financial expectations, while losing significant ground to the competition.
Over the first six months of 2018, the company took in $30.6 million in poker profits, a sharp decline of 28 percent over last year.
It means that, for the first time, poker revenues have fallen behind that of the company’s sports betting product. That segment grew to $37.5 million over the first half of 2018, an increase of 11 percent.
Company officials laid part of the blame on the fact that Australian lawmakers banned online poker late last year. The poker product is now the third-biggest money maker for 888, behind both the casino and sports betting platforms. Poker Scout currently lists 888 as just the eighth-busiest global site, with a rolling daily average of 1,486 cash game players.
Coming to a State Near You?
The company will roll out the new Poker 8 platform over the next three months, and that’s expected to include the states where online poker is currently regulated.
The early results in those states have been something of a mixed bag. While 888, which has teamed up with Caesars and WSOP.com to offer poker in New Jersey, is leading the way in the way in revenue in that state, the expected growth just hasn’t been there.
Poker revenues have remained relatively flat at around $2 million per month, despite the introduction of a shared player pool with Nevada and Delaware.
The hope is that the addition of Pennsylvania to the pool will put things on a more profitable path. The new Poker 8 client is expected to be available when online poker goes live in the Keystone State sometime before the end of 2018.