UK online gambling giant 888 is changing its name to “Evoke.” CEO Per Widerström said Tuesday. The renaming was “the beginning of an exciting new dawn” for the company, which has lately been beset by management upheaval and regulatory investigations, and has opted to pull out of American markets.

888, Evoke
888’s proposed new name “Evoke” sounds nothing like a gambling company. But maybe that’s the point. (Image:

The new name echoes steps taken by major UK gambling companies to liven up their brand names in recent years. The drab-sounding GVC Holdings became the zesty but nonsensical “Entain,” and the M&A-generated mouthful that was Paddy Power Betfair became the whimsical “Flutter.”

Flutter, incidentally, was originally the name of a tiny betting exchange that was Betfair’s first acquisition almost 20 years earlier. The name-swap was an offbeat tribute to Betfair’s transformation from a novel idea about matching bets online to an international gambling behemoth.

Wrong Number

Around the same time Betfair launched its groundbreaking betting exchange in 2001, a fledgling online gambling company called Virtual Holdings Ltd, based in the tax haven British Virgin Islands, rebranded to 888.

The name was chosen because the number eight is lucky in Chinese numerology. This is because its pronunciation “Ba” sounds similar to the word “fa,” which denotes great wealth, success, and status. And so, by extension, 888 is triply lucky, because three also happens to be a lucky number.

In China, addresses and phone numbers containing the digit sequence 888 can command premium prices because of their perceived auspicious qualities.

So, why not 8888 for quadruple success?

Are you crazy? The number 4 in Chinese numerology is the most ill-fated of all numbers. It’s calamitous, catastrophic, and synonymous with DEATH.

In addition to skipping the 13th floor to cater to superstitious Westerners, many Las Vegas casino resorts also skip floors 40 through 49 so as not to freak out Chinese guests, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported recently. Fear of the number 4 is called tetraphobia.

Girl Band Vibes

These days, the company soon to be known as Evoke isn’t so focused on unregulated markets, so maybe catering to Chinese superstitions isn’t so important anymore.

In fact, part of 888’s new plan (and it’s still called 888, for now), is to refocus on its core markets of the UK, Italy, Spain, and Denmark.

But what does Evoke evoke? It sounds like it could be the latest fragrance from Calvin Klein. It also has 1990s girl band vibes. But a gambling company?

Maybe this is part of the trend for company names to offer absolutely no clue to the services they offer. Or maybe someone took the brief to come up with an “evocative” new company name way too literally.

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