Financial News — Weekly Round-up for July 21, 2017

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Jul 21, 2017

Hong Kong Jockey Club Hails Strong Growth And New Highs

Success of commingling strategy a major factor in successful season

The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has revealed strong results for its 2016/2017 season, saying growth had been extraordinary following a 2 percent dip in overall turnover the previous season which marked its first decline in eight years.

Setting a new record, HKJC reported an increase of 10.7 percent in overall turnover to reach an all time high of HK$117.456 billion, and total gross margins of HK$4.77 billion up 7.2 percent on last season. The club attributes this strong result to a successful commingling strategy and five additional fixtures within this year’s season.

“Our growth this year has been extraordinary, it has surprised me how strong it has been,” Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chief executive officer of HKJC, said.

In addition, the record results have delivered a record tax contribution to the Hong Kong community amounting to HK$13.1 billion, HK$1 billion up from the previous year.

“The incredible interest in Hong Kong racing from the commingling jurisdictions is one of the main drivers in this year’s growth,” Engelbrecht-Bresges added.

Last season HKJC’s turnover from commingling was HK$3.47 billion, comprising 3.3 percent of the total turnover, however an expanding portfolio of partners has almost doubled commingling turnover to reach HK$6.5 billion this season, now contributing 5.7 percent of the total.

“This gives us significant optimism going into next season because we can see that the attractiveness of Hong Kong racing’s quality has really captured overseas markets,” Engelbrecht-Bresges, said.

“Hong Kong racing attracts more and more attention because we are providing highly competitive racing, large field sizes, access to unparalleled racing information, and, of course, we ensure high standards when it comes to integrity and racing control measures.”

JDigital Highlight Historical Spanish Market Stats

Over five years of regulated play

Spanish industry association, JDigital has compiled an infographic on Spain‘s regulated gambling market since its inception five years ago.

Standout stats include Euro 35 billion in prizes, growth in sports bets of 273 percent and tripling of GGR from the first quarter after inception to the first quarter 2017.

Total stakes since the regulated inception of the market amount to Euro 37,325,625,074 and registered players have reached 9.6 million, JDigital reports.

Within the online sector, the sports betting segment has experienced the strongest growth of 273 percent, tripling GGR.

Poker growth was well below the sector growth trend reaching a nominal 10 percent over the past five years. Blackjack GGR tripled, roulette more than doubled and bingo doubled.

The sports betting segment now represents 58.4 percent of the total sector having kicked off at 45.7 percent, five years ago. Poker, on the other hand, portrays the opposite having declined from a 32.65 percent representation to only 12.3 percent of the sector currently.

Betsson Reports Strong Q.2-2017

Revenue growth in the second quarter at 26 percent, with organic growth of 15 percent

Online gambling group Betsson has reported another successful quarter, advising that its Q2-2017 highlights include:

* Organic revenue growth of 15 percent;
* Overall revenue up 26 percent at SEK 1,177.5 million;
* Gross profit up 23 percent at SEK851.1 million;
* Net Income: SEK 186.1 million -up 27 percent;
* Active players down 2 percent at 551,000;
* Total deposits up 17 percent at SEK 4,056.3 million;
* Casino revenue increased by 28 percent and Sportsbook revenue by 15 percent to SEK 876.6 million and SEK 255.6 million respectively;
* Business in the Nordics region grew by 28 percent and the Western Europeean region by 69 percent;
* Operating income (EBIT) amounted to SEK 206.9 million, an increase of 31 percent. In constant currency, EBIT was SEK 224.4 million;
* Sustainable revenue increased by 58 percent and betting duties amounted to SEK 53.5 (31.3) million.

For the period January-June 2017, the company reported the following highlights:

* Revenue increased by 18 percent to SEK 2,279.4 million. Casino revenue increased by 26 percent;
* Operating profit amounted to SEK 447.8 (408.4) million, corresponding to growth of 10 percent;
* Profit before tax amounted to SEK 427.0 (405.3) million;
* Net profit amounted to SEK 400.5 (380.3) million, corresponding to SEK 2.89 (2.75) per share;
* Operating cash flow amounted to SEK 447.3 (541.9) million.

CEO, Ulrik Bengtsson commented:

“Betsson continues to gain market share, both in in the highly competitive Nordic region and in Western Europe. The continuous product development is clearly paying off as both casino and sportsbook have developed strongly. Operating Income (EBIT) grew by 31 percent. Operating income shows strong growth, despite increased betting duties, a continuing currency headwind and increased marketing expenses, again showing the scalability of the business model over time.

“It is also a good indication of the stability and balance of the business. Betsson is larger and a significantly more well-balanced business with higher growth rates, compared with a year ago.

“In Q3-2016, we made a step change in our product development and launched a very successful new mobile Casino based on Betsson’s proprietary OBG framework, resulting in three consecutive quarters with Casino growth above 20 percent. We also made some significant improvements to the sportsbook, including increased market depth, more simultaneous live events, improved functionality such as cash-out, and most recently, the launch of an improved racing offer. This has enabled the strong sportsbook growth of 48 percent in the Nordics.

“The next big initiative is a new mobile sportsbook developed on OBG, which is currently being rolled out. We believe we will see the full effect of this in the sportsbook revenue in the fourth quarter and onwards.

“The development of the technical platform continues, in order to outgrow the market also in the future, and to absorb the increasing cost of regulations. Betsson will also continue to be active in the consolidation of the online gaming market.

“The daily revenue in the beginning of the third quarter was, as expected, much higher than the average daily revenue for the full third quarter 2016. Operating income in the third quarter last year was very strong for Betsson, partly due to a strong finish to Euro 2016 with a higher than average sportsbook margin.”

Gaming Realms Trading Update Shows Steady Progress

Presents significantly reduced EBITDA

In a half-year trading update London-listed Gaming Realms plc revealed steady progress over the past six months with revenues reaching GBP 15.7 million (H1/2016: GBP 14.9 million) and a significantly reduced EBITDA of GBP -0.9 million (H1/2016: GBP -3.6 million).

The Board said it remains confident in its strategy and is on track to achieve the Board’s expectations for the year as a whole.

In addition, the company expects to achieve significant positive EBITDA in the second half of the financial year with increased revenues, seasonal marketing costs reduced, and a full period of benefits from the integration of the social business.

To support this growth, Gaming Realms anticipates raising approximately GBP 1 million from investors in the relatively short term.

Evolution Gaming Releases Half-Year Report

Live dealer technology and services provider is enjoying a good year

Live dealer and technology provider Evolution Gaming has turned in another impressive half-year report covering the year to end June 2017 and flagging the following highlights:

Q2-2017 KPIs:

* Operating revenues up 56 percent y-o-y at Euro 42.3 million (27.1);
* EBITDA up 81 percent to Euro 19.2 million (10.6), corresponding to a margin of 45 percent (39);
* Profit for the period amounted to Euro 14.6 million (7.6);

The first half of 2017:

* Operating revenues up 58 percent year-on-year to Euro 82 million (51.9);
* EBITDA up 74 percent to Euro 36.3 million (20.9), corresponding to a margin of 44 percent (40);
* Profit for the period amounted to Euro 27.4 million (15.3);

CEO Martin Carlsund reported:

* Strong and steady growth in all products;
* Gaming revenues generated on the mobile platform exceeded 50 percent for the first time in Q2-22017;
* Sales rose by 56 percent in Q2;
* Strong results driven by high growth among existing customers and in existing environments, supported by improvements in efficiency;
* Company is prepared for an intense period ahead in terms of expansion into new environments;
* Innovative and non-traditional games like Dream Catcher have proved very popular with live dealer players;
* Land operator interest in convergence product Dual Play Roulette – a bridge between online and real-life play;
* Landmark deal with the Netherlands’ largest gaming operator Nederlandse Loterij, which runs a variety of game types and brands in the market;
* In June, Evolution moved from First North to the main market at Nasdaq Stockholm;
* Evolution has been given permission to establish its next major studio in Tbilisi in Georgia.

Decline In Irish On-Track Betting

Impacted by dip in attendance and challenges related to BREXIT

Ireland‘s first half 2017 betting stats report shows a 3.8 percent decline in attendance and a 6.4 percent decline in overall on-track betting turnover, a worrying trend, Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) chief executive Brian Kavanagh said.

On-course tote declined 10.4 percent to reach Euro 4.3 million, on-course bookmaker betting declined 5.8 percent to Euro 29.5 million and Total on-course betting reached Euro 33.8 million, a 6.4 percent decline.

Tote Ireland, however, was up 9 percent overall reaching Euro 48.2 million. Off-course Tote (Irish Pools) reached Euro 40.8 million, up 12.1 percent and off-course Tote (International pools) reached Euro 3.1 million, an increase of 3.3 percent.

With reference to the decline in on-course betting, Kavanagh said:

“It’s very hard to see a way in which it will turn around. But we will work with the Tote and bookmakers to see if there’s a way to stop that decline because I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interests that this would continue to fall. I still remain positive it can be halted.”

Stats were positive in most other areas of the thoroughbred industry including strong growth in bloodstock sales, prize money, sponsorships, field sizes and active owners.

The upcoming Galway festival will still have a major bearing on betting figures for the second half and the full year.

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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