888 CEO to switch to chairman's role next year

LONDON Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:09am EDT

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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