UPDATE 2-888 in gaming deal with casino operator Harrah's


Mafia Wars Level 472
May 10, 2008
Brooklyn, New York, United States
* Says deal for British market worth "millions of dollars"

* Says 888 has other deals with U.S. firms in pipeline

* Shares up 10.2 percent

(Adds company, analyst comment, shares, details)

By Rhys Jones

LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - British online gaming group 888 <888.L> said U.S. casino operator Harrah's Entertainment [HAMLEH.UL] was to use 888 software in Britain, sending its shares to a two-month high.

888 said its Dragonfish unit would support the British launch and roll-out of World Series of Poker (WSOP) and Caesars Casino brands, both owned by Harrah's, the world's largest gaming firm.

Shares in 888, which had lost a quarter of their value in the past three months, were up 10.2 percent at 94 pence by 1100 GMT.

"It's an amazing deal if the U.S. market opens up to online gaming one day and it's a good deal even if it's Europe only. We have more big American deals in the pipeline for the B2B unit," chief executive Gigi Levy told Reuters in an interview.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed but Levy said it was worth "millions of dollars" and would be earnings enhancing next year.

Under the deal Dragonfish will also deliver its e-payments, and customer support services to help grow the WSOP and Caesars brands online.

News of the agreement prompted brokers KBC Peel Hunt and Numis to upgrade 888 to 'buy' from 'hold'.

"This is a major coup for 888 and demonstrates the value of its B2B (business-to-business) offering," said Daniel Stewart analyst James Hollins.

"It vindicates the investment made in B2B by 888 and naturally propels 888 as the most likely B2B partner for Harrah's in the U.S. should that market open up to online gaming," he said.

Harrah's, the operator of more than 50 casinos, was acquired by private-equity firms Apollo Management LP [APOLO.UL] and TPG Capital [TPG.UL] for $30.7 billion in January 2008.

888 and PartyGaming both reported lower first-half profit last month but said they expected trade to pick up in the second-half. [ID:nLR061347] [ID:nLS062547] (Additional reporting by Tresa Sherin Morera; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan and Dan Lalor)

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