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888 CEO to switch to chairman's role next year

LONDON, Aug 27 (Reuters) – 888 Holdings Chief
Executive Brian Mattingley will step down from the day-to-day
running of the online gambling company next year and become
chairman in a management restructuring, 888 said on Wednesday.

888, which offers casino, poker and bingo games, will
promote its Chief Operating Officer Itai Frieberger to a seat on
the board in January and he will run the business with Chief
Financial Officer Aviad Kobrine when the changes take effect.

Mattingley, who is 63 and has been chief executive for three
years, told Reuters he would be responsible for overseeing
strategy and working with regulators and hoped to cut down to
working around three days a week.

Current non-executive chairman Richard Kilsby will retire
next year, with Mattingley moving into the chairman role after
the company’s annual shareholder meeting, likely around May.

888 on Wednesday reported a 27 percent increase in earnings
before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to
$49 million in the six months to June 30, helped by growth in
mobile gaming, a recovery in its bingo business and the
development of its small sports operation.

“Whilst the outcome for the full year will be dependent on
trading in the second half we continue to look forward with
confidence as we further develop the business,” Mattingley said
in a statement.

888 shares were down around 1 percent to 129.25 pence at
0735 GMT.

888 is the only online gaming company that has operations in
three U.S. states where gambling rules have been relaxed – New
Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

Mattingley said trading in New Jersey had been slower than
anticipated after the market was opened up last November but he
believed that business would pick up as the authorities relaxed
some constraints.

Operators have had a series of teething problems in the
United States, with some banks declining transactions as they
did not realise that online gambling was now legal in a small
number of states.

To promote its poker business, 888 had a short-lived
sponsorship deal with Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez but
cancelled that in June after Suarez bit an opponent during a
World Cup match.

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Mark Potter)

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