Gambling Industry Acquisitions and Financial News — Weekly Round-up for September 14, 2018

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Sep 14, 2018

Concern Over Losses At Codere

Dissension continues at board level

Spanish and LatAm gambling group Codere has released its H1-2018 results, highlighting:

  • Overall decline of 7 percent in group revenue at Euro 759.3 million following serious forex losses in Argentina, where revenue fell 22.5 percent to Euro 232.6 million – an 11 percent drop in constant currency terms;
  • Adjusted EBITDA reached Euro 132.9 million, 1.1 percent above H1 2017;
  • Turnover in Europe up almost 10 percent at Euro 273 million;
  • Corporate debt down slightly y-o-y at Euro 840 million;
  • Group consolidated loss of Euro 34 million

Regional media reports noted that three directors – previous controlling interest shareholders Martínez Sampedro, his brother Luis Javier and Pío Cabanillas – refused to sign off on the accounts in a continuation of board room feuding at the company.

Italian Sports Betting Strong In August

Despite conclusion of World Cup football bonanza, the market remains buoyant

The Italian sports betting market did very well in August despite the preceding two months enjoying the boost of World Cup football betting. Combined retail and online revenues rose 34.4 percent year-on-year to Euro 111.4 million, with a minimal decline in volumes achieved in June and July.

Online sports betting produced particularly good results, with revenues rising 27.8 percent to Euro 50 million with bet365 leading the market with a 17.1 percent share. On a year-to-date basis online sports betting has delivered Euro 411.4 million in revenue – up 41.5 percent over the corresponding period last year.

Virtual sports betting in retail outlets generated Euro 19 million and was dominated by Gamenet-Goldbet with a 27.5 percent market share. On a YTD basis the vertical has generated revenues of Euro 170 million, Euro 157.5 million from retail outlets.

Italian online casino operators enjoyed another profitable month in August, reporting revenue up 26 percent at Euro 56.5 million, Pokerstars was the brand to beat with a 9.7 percent share of the market, chased by Lottomatica (8.9 percent) and Sisal (8.4 percent). Online casino revenues rose over Euro 100 million to Euro 458.8 million in YTD terms.

Online poker underperformed in August with cash games revenue down 6.9 percent at Euro 4.8 million, and tournament fees down 5.9 percent at Euro 5.6 million. Pokerstars again led the market with a 42.1 percent share of the cash game action and a 64.8 percent slice of tournament fees. YTD figures in the vertical remain disappointing with cash game revenue down Euro 2 million to Euro 44.1 million, and tournament revenue pretty much stable at Euro 55 million.

GVC Holdings Posts H1-2018 Interim Results

Strong first half performance from multinational sports-betting and gaming group

Multinational sports-betting and gaming group GVC Holdings plc posted its H1-2018 results Thursday, highlighting the following indicators:

  • Proforma Group NGR up 8 percent at GBP 1,717.0 millions;
  • Proforma Group revenue up 8 percent at GBP 1,694.3 millions;
  • Proforma Group underlying EBITDA up 11 percent at GBP 349.5 million;
  • Proforma Group underlying operating profit up 17 percent at GBP 277.9 million;
  • Adjusted diluted EPS of 32.2p up 30 percent;
  • Interim dividend of 16.0p per share (H1 2017: 14.6p);
  • Adjusted net debt at 30 June 2018 of GBP 1,887.0 million.

Operational highlights in H1 included:

  • Good momentum in Online with market share gains in all key territories; NGR up 18 percent (+20 percent in constant currency); Sports brands up 19 percent (+21 percent cc) and Games brands up 13 percent (+15 percent cc);
  • UK Retail like-for-like NGR down 3 percent; a good World Cup helping offset the impact of poor weather in first half;
  • European Retail NGR up 29 percent (+26 percent cc) with strong growth in Italy;
  • Positive World Cup tournament driven by both gross win margin and volumes;
  • Completed the acquisition of the Ladbrokes Coral Group on 28 March; Capex synergies of at least GBP 30 million now identified. Integration progressing well and on target to achieve at least GBP 130 million cost synergies by 2021;

Current trading July 1 to September 2 2018:

  • Established a 50/50 joint venture with MGM Resorts to create a sports-betting and online gaming platform in the U.S;
  • Strong current trading: Group proforma NGR up 14 percent with strong growth in Online (NGR up 30 percent) and European Retail (NGR up 26 percent);
  • Product development and marketing driving continued market share gains.

GVC Group chief executive Kenneth Alexander reported:

“The performance of the GVC Group in the first half has been extremely pleasing in what has been a very busy period. Strong momentum in Online and European Retail has continued, and a positive World Cup helped improve trends in UK Retail in the second quarter.

“The acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral completed on 28 March and the integration of that business is progressing well. We have now identified capex synergies of at least GBP 30 million in addition to the GBP 130 million cost synergies and we are well placed to deliver those savings while driving top line growth. We are gaining market share in all our key markets and we will look to reinvest to further strengthen our market position.

“The repeal of PASPA by the U.S. Supreme Court in May provides a significant new market opportunity and we are delighted to have announced a joint venture with MGM Resorts to provide sports-betting and online gaming services in the US. The combination of MGM’s leading brands together with GVC’s proprietary technology, and both businesses’ combined betting and gaming expertise, puts the Group in the best possible position to benefit from what could become the world’s largest regulated sports-betting market.

“Our strategy to build scale and diversification through organic growth and acquisition is more relevant today than ever. Gaming regulation continues to evolve globally creating both opportunities and challenges, with barriers to entry rising all the time. Against this backdrop, GVC is well positioned to continue to create further shareholder value. We also recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility and in particular that actions speak louder than words. Over the coming months we will announce a number of new initiatives across all areas of CSR.

“We have announced an interim dividend of 16 pence, 10 per cent ahead of last year, and the positive performance of the Group in the first half means that we are confident of delivering a full year result in-line with the Board’s expectations.”

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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