March 22, 2013 11:10 pm

Nevada licence boosts 888

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888 has had its bid for a gaming licence in Nevada approved, becoming the first non-US online gaming operator to win official approval from the Silver State.

The online gaming group had operated in the US until the government banned online gambling in 2006. The granting of the licence means that it is unlikely 888 will face any retrospective fines for this period.

Brian Mattingley, chief executive, said: “This is a historic moment for 888. This is the first time a company uniquely providing online gaming has been licensed by any US jurisdiction.”

Within weeks, 888 could start operating under its own brand in the US.

“Seen in the industry as the gold standard of global gaming regulation, we are delighted to have been awarded our licence to operate in the state of Nevada, a decision that vindicates our US strategy,” said Mr Mattingley.

Investors had piled into 888 on the back of its US strategy, forcing management into the unusual position of talking down the group’s prospects in a liberalised US market.

Earlier this month Mr Mattingley even took the step of praising a drop in his company’s share price. “We were valued at 11 times [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation] – that’s far too much,” Mr Mattingley said in early March. “I believe it’s good we are settling back to a share price valuing us sensibly.”

Shares in the group trebled in 2012 and have continued their good form into 2013, gaining another third. On Friday 888 closed down 0.4 per cent to 161.9p.

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