888 Loses Another Long-Time Exec, AK Bets Adds Gaming Vet to Roster

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Posted on: July 18, 2023, 07:52h. 

Last updated on: July 18, 2023, 08:57h.

888 Holdings is losing another executive, with Yariv Lavi announcing his departure after more than 13 years. At the same time, an up-and-coming Irish iGaming operator, AK Bets, is bringing in a gaming industry veteran to help it continue to gain traction in the market.

The entrance to 888 Holdings offices in Israel
The entrance to 888 Holdings offices in Israel. Yariv Lavi is leaving the company after more than 13 years. (Image: 888 Holdings)

Lavi is leaving amid an upheaval at 888 that began following its acquisition of William Hill’s non-US gaming assets. The company’s stability has come into question and it’s already lost several high-placed executives, including former CEO Itai Pazner.

AK Bets entered the betting scene in 2021, making it one of the younger sportsbooks in the market. However, it’s seemingly on the right track, reporting consistent growth in its customer base.

888 Executive Ranks Continue Shuffle

Lavi announced his impending departure on LinkedIn, bringing to an end a career with the company that spanned 13 and a half years. Having joined in November 2009, he spent the entirety of his tenure as 888’s Director Of Business Development.

Prior to that, per his LinkedIn profile, Lavi spent three years at Israel Aerospace Industries as its sales director. This was followed by three additional years at BVR Systems as its marketing director.

While the latter doesn’t exist on LinkedIn, the website Israel Defense describes it as a company that “develops, manufactures and markets simulation systems for military applications.” Elbit Systems, another military tech company, acquired it in 2009, the year Lavi left.

Lavi doesn’t explain what he plans next, although his post seems to indicate that he doesn’t have anything concrete lined up. He said that he’s “excited to see what the future holds.”

This past January, after 888’s revenue continued to slip, Pazner suddenly stepped down from the company. At the same time, there were rumors of possible regulatory compliance issues and money laundering in several jurisdictions.

At the time Pazner stepped down, Chief Financial Officer Yariv Dafna also announced his departure. He was initially going to step down in March, but then announced that he would stay on until the end of the year.

Recently, 888 has come back into the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Its financial turmoil has led to talks of a potential hostile takeover by shareholders, which subsequently put its UK gaming license in jeopardy.

That deal would have allowed Kenny Alexander, a former Entain boss and long-time industry investor, to become 888’s CEO. In light of the trouble surrounding its UK license, 888 backed out of the arrangement. It’s still looking for a new boss.

Luck of the Irish

AK Bets began in July 2021 as an on-track bookmaker. It’s been growing since and launched an online casino at the beginning of this year.

In an effort to build on its momentum, AK Bets’ founder and former Paddy Power Betfair executive Anthony Kaminskas has turned to Joe Lee, who is now the company’s Head of Strategy and Performance.

Kaminskas and Lee worked together at Paddy Power. At the time, Kaminskas was the company’s Head of Greyhound Racing and Lee, who also had a previous three-year stint with Australia’s Sportsbet, was the Head of Trump Betting.

Kaminskas left in March 2018 and Lee became Paddy Power’s Head of GB & Ireland that December. He held the role until April 2022, when he left and became the Corporate Sales & Sponsorship Manager for One Zero, a company dedicated to sports and sports technology conferences.

Since then, Lee has been an iGaming industry consultant and admits that he’s ready to “get back into startup mode and work with some really top people.”


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