888.com enters online sportsbetting arena

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888.COM'S ITALIAN ONLINE SPORTSBOOK GOES LIVE

Online gambling giant enters the Internet sportsbetting arena

888.com CEO Gigi Levy hinted at it in his opening address to the EiG conference in Barcelona recently, and this week it has come to fruition - the entry of the Gibraltar-based online gambling giant into the Internet sportsbook arena in Italy.

The new Italian website started taking bets this week, and is part of a longer term expansion strategy reports the Reuters news agency, quoting Levy as saying: "It will boost revenues but it will also build customer numbers so we are in a good position next year when skill games we are strong in, like poker, are allowed."

Analysts estimated that the sports betting site could bring in revenue of around GBP 2.46 million ($5 million) to $10 million in 2008.

Levy added that the Italian market would be one of the firm's big areas of focus over the next two years.

Under the influence of European lawmakers, Italy is slowly opening up its gambling market and despite originally opposing Internet betting, the Italian government has since said it will allow games of skill.

Firms are waiting to find out what will fall under the term "skill game" as opposed to a "game of chance", with analysts putting their money on poker tournaments being approved but a ban kept on one-off games. The Italians are expected to have finalised a firm definition before the end of 2007.
 

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