Financial News — Weekly Round-up for September 8, 2017

Despite Typhoons Macau Gambling Revenues Rise In August

Casinos report 20 percent rise in revenue in August

Macau casino revenues continued to rise in August despite the disruptions of typhoons Hato and Pakhar which wreaked havoc on the gambling island.

Official figures from the government regulator Friday show that casino revenues rose 20 percent year-on-year for the 13th consecutive month of gains. Total revenues were 22.7 billion patacas ($2.82 billion) compared with the 17 to 22 percent growth that analysts estimated, taking the typhoon impact into account.

The Reuters news agency reports that the typhoons cost casinos between 5 and 7 percent in monthly gross gaming revenue, but that a strong recovery is anticipated in September.

The impact of the extreme weather was less acute along Macau’s Las Vegas-style Cotai strip due to newer infrastructure and back-up power generators, the agency notes.

Hato brought winds with speeds of over 200 kph (124 mph) which ripped through buildings, crippled critical infrastructure and caused widespread flooding, Reuters reports. Casinos will begin to return to business as usual from the coming weekend with the resumption of package tours.

Espacejeux Adds Value To Loto-Quebec Q1 Results

Online division reports revenues up 42.3 percent

Loto-Quebec’s Q1 2017-18 report released Friday showed that the company’s year is off to a good start, with the online operations through Espacejeux delivering a particularly strong performance.

Group consolidated revenue was up 6.2 percent y-o-y at Cdn$882.4 million, with net income coming in at Cdn$325.1 million – up 8.9 percent.

Online gaming was up 35 percent at Cdn$13.1 million, and the online casino operation Espacejeux saw revenues rise an impressive 42.3 percent to Cdn$24.5 million.

The company reported that work to improve navigation between its diverse product families continues, and announced that the World Lottery Association (WLA) has renewed the group’s Security Control Standard Certification this spring. Valid until June 2020, the certification confirms that the Corporation rigorously applies internationally-recognised best practices relating to gaming activity security and integrity.

888 Holdings Revenues Continue To Rise

But pre-tax profits have swung from $27.8 million in H1-2017 to a loss of $17.3 million this year due to $50.8 million in exceptional charges

Despite its recent regulatory troubles and GBP 7..8 million fine from the UK Gambling Commission (see previous InfoPowa report) online gambling operator 888 Holdings plc turned in another positive revenue report for H1-2017 with online casino and sports betting revenue up 3 percent at $ 270.1 million.

Revenue at group casino and sports divisions rose 11 percent and 35 percent respectively, Sports betting revenue reached $ 33.7 million, performing strongly in live betting and in Italy according to Reuters news agency reports Tuesday.

Mobile performance also drove growth and accounted for 69 percent of UK revenue.

Other metrics reported by the company included:

* $242.6 million generated by the consumer business, more than half of which is now accounted for by the online casino offering;

* Business-facing products slipped 15 percent, bringing in revenue of $27.5 million;

* Adjusted underlying earnings increased 8 percent to $47.6 million;

* Revenue in the UK sank three percent to $105.2 million, though the market still makes up 39 percent of total revenue;

* US trading generated mostly flat revenue as expected at $22.6 million;

* Europe saw 24 percent growth with revenue of $133.6 million – for the first time overtaking the UK market as 888 most significant contributor. Italy saw a 40 percent rise in revenues, and the numbers in Spain were up 23 percent;

* 888 exited the Polish and Australian markets for regulatory reasons.

The company said it had made provision for $50.8 million in exceptional charges in H1 which included a provision of $5.5 million in respect of the possible Gambling Commission fine and a $45.3 million charge linked to a potential historic VAT bill in Germany.

Consequently, the company swung to a pre-tax loss of $17.3 million from a profit of $27.8 million last year.

CEO Itai Frieberger reported:

“Trading in Q3 has started well and in line with the board’s expectations. Underpinned by this momentum as well as the proven strengths of the group’s business model, the board remains confident that 888 will achieve further progress and deliver its expectations for the full year.”

South African Gambling Revenues Rise In Fiscal 2016-17

But mainstay contributors, the land casino operators, saw a 1.8 percent dip

The National Gambling Board of South Africa released the local gambling industry’s fiscal 2016-17 numbers to end March this week, noting that overall revenue was up 3.8 percent year-on-year at SAR 27 billion (US$1.2 billion). The results do not include the national lottery.

Despite the overall increase, the report notes that land casino revenues, which contribute 66.4 percent of all revenue, slipped 1.8 percent y-o-y at SAR 17.9 billion. Punters spent 1.2 percent less on the land casino slots and table games, reducing overall turnover by 73.2 percent.

By contrast, sports and horse racing saw a year-on-year gain in revenue of 14.3 percent at SAR 5.1 billion, with sports betting doing especially well with revenues up 22 percent at SAR 2.6 billion. Sports betting turnover soared over 40 percent to SAR 32.8 billion.

Horseracing revenues also improved, up 12 percent to SAR 1.1 billion, although tote racing was unimpressively flat at SAR 1 billion.

Elsewhere, limited pay-out machine (LPM) revenues were up 14 percent at SAR 2.7 billion, contributing 10 percent of overall market revenues. Offline bingo revenues reached SAR 1.3 billion, a y-o-y rise of 37 percent.

Online casino gambling is prohibited in South Africa, although online sports betting is permitted.

Chinese-Facing Payments Firm Suspended On London Aim Exchange

CFO resigns, making “serious allegations” against CEO

AIM-listed and China-facing payments technology and data provider BNN Technology halted trading in its shares Monday and suspended UK and China CEOs Darren Mercer and Wei Qi.

A statement from the board of directors explained that the actions were necessary following unspecified but “serious allegations” by the group’s CFO Scott Kennedy, who resigned last Friday.

In a statement to the stock exchange, the company said the suspensions left it “without any executive directors or suitable senior executive management to provide appropriate oversight and control of the company’s operations, particularly its operations in China.”

Independent board members Lord Mancroft and Harry Keiley said BNN’s shares would remain suspended until interim executives were appointed.

“We are aware that this announcement will cause great concern to our shareholders,” Kelley said. “However, given the serious nature of these allegations and the source from which they have come, the independent committee feels it has no choice but to suspend the relevant individuals at this time.”

The statement advised that BNN is to commission an independent legal review of the allegations made by the group’s departing CFO.

The Financial Times reports that BNN is the latest AIM listed Chinese company to be embroiled in controversy, with several forced to quit the junior market after a 2015 crackdown on management standards by the regulator.

InfoPowa readers may recall that BNN was originally the Chinese-facing online lottery technology provider DJI Holdings. When the Chinese government clamped down on online lottery activity in 2015 the company re-invented itself as a payments solutions technology provider and rebranded to BNN Technologies.

Neither Mercer or Qi would comment when approached by the media on the allegations.