888 acquires online game Wink Bingo for $96 million

Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings Plc. has agreed to buy Wink Bingo for up to £60 million ($96 million) in its effort to enhance the company's presence in the fastest-growing segment of the online gambling market.

The terms of the deal involve an initial down payment of £11 million to Wink's current owners Daub Ltd, controlled by Avi and Aharon Shaked, plus an earn-out of up to a further £48.7 million in the second quarter of 2011 depending on future performance. This will be capped at £59.7 million.

888 chief executive Gigi Levy said the acquisition would help the company expand its online bingo footprint "in the lucrative UK market".

Bingo is considered an important growth engine for the online gaming industry, in addition to more traditional online poker, roulette, and other casino offerings.

Three years ago, 888 was forced to withdraw from America after internet gambling was banned. Levy believes the company could once again have a US presence by the end of next year by settling its row with the Department of Justice over its activities.

Wink Bingo burst onto the scene in early 2008 and soon became a household name. Sponsoring prime-time TV show's like Harry Hill's TV Burp and running funny ads like the Dancing Dog has helped Wink Bingo attract more than 60,000 active players a month.