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888 has moved to facilitate the launch of its Sports Illustrated-branded betting brand, SI Sportsbook, in New Jersey after taking 888sport offline in the Garden State.

The 888sport brand ceased to accept sports bets or provide sports betting markets in New Jersey as of 15 December, according to a customer notice on the operator’s website.

Sports bettors in the state can still log in to the site to withdraw their funds, or to use their remaining balance on sister sites including 888poker and 888casino.

The London-listed operator has also pledged to settle all open and outstanding bets.

“As part of our strategic partnership with Sports Illustrated, we can confirm that we have closed 888sport in New Jersey as we prepare for SI Sportsbook’s launch in the market,” said the operator in a statement.

888 first teamed up with Sports Illustrated in June 2021 after securing an exclusive rights deal with the magazine’s parent publishing company, Authentic Brands Group.

In return for licensing out the brand, Authentic Brands Group will receive an undisclosed licensing fee and a minority passive interest in 888.

888’s SI Sportsbook has been live in Colorado since September – the only US state in which it currently operates. New Jersey will likely be next, and the operator said the new brand has been well-received with positive customer feedback to date.

No timeline has been provided for a potential New Jersey launch, while some analysts have expressed their surprise that 888 selected to remove the 888sport brand in New Jersey before it was ready to redirect customers to SI Sportsbook.

“We are now focused on launching SI Sportsbook in other states, including New Jersey, and are excited to share more details in the coming weeks and months,” added the operator.

New Jersey sportsbooks generated $114.8m in sports betting revenue in November 2021, making it the first US state ever to generate more than $100m in operator revenue in a single month.

The Garden State also reported $1.26bn in sports betting handle for November, falling just short of the $1.30bn national single-month record it set in October 2021.

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