888 Holdings Finds New CEO in Long-Time Industry Vet

Posted on: July 26, 2023, 07:41h. 

Last updated on: July 26, 2023, 12:59h.

In a strategic move to help it get back on its feet in the global online gambling market, 888 Holdings has announced the appointment of Per Widerström as its new CEO. The decision comes as a part of the gaming and entertainment company’s attempts to stabilize itself following a string of bad news.

Per Widerström in a PR photo when he was CEO of Fortuna Entertainment Group
Per Widerström in a PR photo when he was CEO of Fortuna Entertainment Group. He will become the new CEO at 888 Holdings this year. (Image: Fortuna Entertainment Group)

Widerström brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise in the online gaming industry, having spent almost two decades at the forefront of some of the most successful gambling companies in the world. Most notably, he was the CEO of Fortuna Entertainment Group, an omnichannel betting and gaming operator serving Europe, from 2014 to 2022.

Widerström also held various positions within several other gaming companies, including as the current chairman of the board for Casumo and as a nonexecutive board member at Catena Media. In addition, he serves as a board member or chairman of the board for several entities tied to the European financial institution Nordic Capital.

Experience Counts

Widerström developed a passion for technology and business early on. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Gothenburg and a Masters in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Widerström’s professional journey began with a stint at Anderson Consulting, which later became Accenture. His time with the company was well before the scandal involving the firm and its accounting ties to the defunct Enron.

After that, he spent significant time with Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola in executive-level roles. From there, he jumped into the telecom field.

Widerström entered the online gaming industry in 2006 when he joined Expekt, an online gaming operator out of Malta. He explains in his LinkedIn profile that he helped the company triple its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) within two years.

From there, he moved to Bwin and, later, Gala Coral Group, where he continued to use his financial expertise to improve the companies’ operations.

The diversity of his background was undoubtedly one of the main reasons 888 selected him. The company is going through a major upheaval, having lost several high-ranking executives this year. Among these are its former CEO, Itai Pazner, who left as the company was facing accusations of money laundering.

The company, which almost broke the bank to purchase William Hill’s non-US gaming assets last year, hasn’t found solid financial ground in more than a year. That, coupled with the executive exodus, led to a quasi-hostile takeover in June. In turn, the company faced a license review in the UK.

Lord Mendelsohn, 888’s nonexecutive chair, took over as CEO when Pazner left. He’s now ready to hand the company over to Widerström and believes the new boss will help the company accelerate its growth.

Other Industry Moves

Elsewhere in the gaming industry, Spectrum Gaming Group is losing Michael Pollock. He served as the global gaming consultancy’s co-managing director for two decades, but will now turn the company over to its founder, Fredric Gushin, who will become its president and CEO.

At the same time, Juliann Barreto, currently Spectrum’s chief operating officer (COO), will take on additional responsibilities. The company didn’t provide specifics, only stating that he will have a larger “executive role.”

Game of Silks, a digital horse racing platform that resides in the metaverse, is getting a new COO. Ron Luniewski is coming aboard, bringing with him the experience he gained as the co-founder of Swagger Gaming, the daily fantasy sports platform. He also spent time in executive roles with Xpressbet and Youbet.com, according to his LinkedIn profile.