888 Holdings Weighs in on Pennsylvania Skins Debate

Itai Freiberger

888 Holdings Ltd CEO Itai Freiberger has weighed in on the skin debate in Pennsylvania regarding online gambling.

Online gambling was passed into law in October 2017 for the state of Pennsylvania. The licensing process has begun, but no real time line has been provided as to when online poker and casino sites will be in operation. A debate that has emerged involving the online gambling industry of the state includes skins. An online gaming license holder can offer an online brand, which will provide casino and/or poker gaming. In New Jersey, license holders offer several ‘skins’ while holding just one license. Operators are speaking out in Pennsylvania as talk has started, indicating that only one skin per license will be allowed.

888 Holdings Ltd is an operator that has major influence in the online gaming world. Having operated in the UK and many other countries for decades, 888 also has operations in New Jersey with poker and casino gaming on offer. Just recently, the CEO of the company, Itai Freiberger, wrote a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to show the positive impact that multiple online brands can provide the state via one license holder.

Skins Issue in Pennsylvania

The issue behind the number of skins that should be available per license holder is due to Penn National and Parx Casino stirring the pot. Both casinos feel that allowing a license holder to have multiple skins will create a sub-licensing system which is not following the law properly. The casinos argue that the law restricts the total number of online gaming licenses on offer and multiple skins would be a way that operators will get around this restriction. The two also argue that online gaming branding should be the same as the primary license holder.

888 Insight

Itai FreibergerOnce the debate gained ground, 888 Holdings decided to weigh in and share their expertise on the matter. 888 has pointed out that by allowing multiple skins per license holder, it provides benefits to the casino as well as customers. In the letter, Freiberger takes on the arguments by the two casino operators and provides solid information base on their experience which helps to show how multiple skins can be beneficial.

In the letter, 888 starts out by showing how the company is credible and trustworthy. The company actually offers services in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, the only operator currently licensed to do so. Freiberger pointed out that much is needed to offer casinos the best in online gaming startup. For players to have the best experience, a license holder will need a human infrastructure as well as technological aspects.

The gaming platform will need to be well-tested, an experienced support staff needs to be on hand plus fraud prevention, etc. By allowing multiple skins, it allows the gaming venues to create a multi-tiered offering, which will appeal to different demographics. 888 provides the analogy that multiple skins can be compared to having different gaming rooms at a land-based venue. Different rooms cater to different player types such as a high limit room, slot room, etc.

Freiberger also points out that the license cost is quite high will be bar some brands from entering the market. A $10 million minimum must be paid to gain online licensing with an additional $1 million to be paid for online games. Many provides will not be able to pay this amount and it could have an affect on the creation of the online market.

888 is not the first to write a letter in support of multiple skins. iDEA Growth is a lobby group that also wrote in favor of multiple skins. For now, support is being shown, but opposition remains, so it will be interesting to see what the board decides and if multiple skins will be allowed or if license holders will be restricted to one skin only.