Gambling Industry Acquisitions, Mergers and Financial News — Weekly Round-up for November 16, 2018

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Nov 16, 2018

Local Gambling Revenues Languish In Sweden

YTD numbers from Lotteriinspektionen show that local operators are still losing out to international rivals

Year-to-date figures released Thursday by Swedish gambling regulator Lotteriinspektionen show that local operators continued to lose out to international rivals in terms of revenue growth.

Continuing the nine-month long trend, Lotteriinspektionen reported that Sweden’s overall gambling turnover up to end September this year showed a 1.2 percent improvement compared to the same period a year ago, reaching SEK 16.8 billion (US$1.87 billion)

Swedish licensed operators saw declining sales by 2.4 percent to SEK12.24 billion, in growth terms trailing behind the international sites accessing the market, which achieved a 12.4 percent rise in sales to SEK 4.54 billion.

Notably, that 2.4 percent decline was double that reported in the first quarter this year.

Svenska Spel sales fell 1.6 percent to SEK 6.4 billion and occurred mainly in the terrestrial business of the state-owned monopoly where a 9.4 percent fall saw sales reach SEK 2.45 billion. Digital operations enjoyed more success, rising 22.5 percent to SEK 1.94 billion.

Racing monopoly AB Trav and Galopp (ATG) delivered marginally declining sales down 0.4 percent at SEK 3.05 billion with digital turnover up 6.7 percent at SEK 1.88 billion besting land turnover that dipped 10 percent to SEK 1.17 billion.

On the Swedish lottery front, Postcode Lottery sales declined 5.1 percent to SEK 1.61 billion, and People Games dipped 1.3 percent at SEK 345 million, with lesser lotteries all in double digit decline territory in terms of sales.

Peoples Games lottery at least had the distinction of being the only one to show an increase in online sales, which contribute just 10 percent of its total sales.

Playtech Issues Trading Update

Performance in line with expectations and full-year guidance reiterated

Online gambling software provider Playtech plc issued a trading update Monday, reporting on the period since 30 June 2018 and advising that overall performance is consistent with expectations, and the group remains on track to achieve adjusted EBITDA for 2018 in the range of Euro 320 million to Euro 360 million.

Trading in the B2B Gaming Division has continued in line with the trends reported at the interim results in August with good revenue growth outside of Asia. Revenue from Asia has stabilised at an annualised revenue run-rate of approximately Euro150 million, the company reported.

The momentum reported in H1 2018 by Snaitech has continued into the second half of the year with the business continuing to trade in line with expectations. The remainder of the B2C division also continues to perform in line with expectations.

TradeTech’s underlying KPIs have continued to display positive momentum during the second half of the year, although market movements favoured customers particularly in September and October.

The Group’s financial position remains strong,the report notes. During the period Playtech continued to improve the efficiency of its balance sheet with the sale of its stake in Plus500 and successfully completed a Euro 530 million bond offering.

The net proceeds of the offering, together with Playtech’s existing cash resources, have been used to repay all amounts outstanding under the bridge facility utilised for the purposes of the acquisition of Snaitech, to fund the redemption of the outstanding high-yield bonds issued by Snaitech and to pay for other transaction-related costs and expenses.

Record Growth For French Online Sports Betting In Third Quarter

Best in eight years, regulator ARJEL reports

Q3-2018 online gambling statistics released this week by French regulator ARJEL show that turnover in the online sports betting vertical reached an eight-year growth record, soaring 81 percent year-on-year to reach Euro 995 million in the three months ended September.

The major growth in turnover was attributed to the 2018 FIFA World Cup football championships mid-2018 which contributed about 16 percent of turnover and followed a Q2-2018 quarter in which turnover exceeded just over a billion Euro…again thanks to the impact of the World Cup.

The number of online punters in the third quarter rose 84 percent to 553,000 on an average weekly basis.

In revenue terms, the massive turnover translated to a 40 percent y-o-y rise to Euro 149 million

The Wimbledon tennis championships proved to be another online sports betting booster for French operators, with third quarter turnover doubling to Euro 258.4 million; with the exception of basketball, which declined 36 percent to Euro 15 million, other sports betting verticals also did well.

Online horse racing saw handle rise 4 percent in Q3-2018 to Euro 254 million, delivering revenue up 6 percent year-on-year at Euro 63 million, whilst betting on domestic and international football leagues all showed good improvement.

France’s player-sharing agreements with Spain and Portugal continued to benefit the domestic online poker vertical, with cash game wagers up 13 percent to Euro 1 billion in the quarter, whilst tournament fees rose 7 percent y-o-y to Euro 528 million; viewed overall, online poker revenues topped Euro 59 million for a 3 percent year-on-year improvement.

The Cost Of Typhoon Mangkut

Wind, flooding and a short time-out for the casino industry took a toll on Macau’s economy

September’s Typhoon Mangkut, which triggered a brief 33-hour closure of Macau’s 42 land casinos and caused high windstorms and flooding, cost the island economy of Macau at least MOP1.55 billion (US$191.6 million) according to figures released this week by the Macau Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC),

The economic losses included MOP520 million in direct losses and MOP1.03 billion in indirect losses – calculated based on the economic losses of businesses, as well as losses pertaining to homes and vehicles of households, municipal facilities, and certain public service systems.

DSEC said the estimation came from data collected from various sources for analysis and estimation, including information provided by different government departments, historical data on business performance of different economic activities derived from the DSEC database, assessment of damages on buildings through on-site inspection by DSEC enumerators, and estimation of losses gathered from some affected enterprises.

JPJ Group Posts Positive Third Quarter Results

Vera&John division outshines Jackpotjoy this time around

JPJ Group posted its Q3-2018 results this week, reporting overall revenue up 8 percent y-o-y at GBP 77.8 million, with a good performance from the Vera&John division but a 3 percent revenue decline at flagship brand Jackpotjoy, which contributed revenue of GBP 53.5 million.

Management said it expects the decline to be of a short term nature, and attributed the dip to stricter responsible gambling measures and a weaker result from its Mandalay brands.

Vera&John was the star performer in growth terms with revenues up 41 percent y-o-y on a constant currency basis, reaching GBP 52.7 million… 33 percent of group revenues.

JPJ executive chair Neil Goulden reported: “The Vera&John segment is once again the stand-out. The growth at Vera&John highlights our strategy of international diversification, with 44 percent of Group revenue generated outside the UK in Q3.”

The quarterly report additionally notes:

  • After tax profit of GBP 7.3 million in the quarter, a notable turnaround from the net loss of GBP 8.2 mikllion in the same period a year ago;
  • Costs slightly lower at GBP 65.1 million;
  • Adjusted EBITDA up almost 13 percent y-o-y at GBP 28.8 million, thanks principally to good growth at Vera&John;
  • An agreement to sell the group’s social gaming business to South Korean studio Bagelcode for GBP 18 million in order to concentrate on real-money assets;
  • Initiatives to bring in-house operational functions currently outsourced to Gamesys, from who Jackpotjoy was acquired;
  • A decision not to extend the non-compete agreement with Gamesys.

GVC Dodges An Expensive Bullet

Revision of FOBT implementation date has the potential to save gambling group around GBP 670 million

According to the Reuters news service, GVC Holdings shares surged Wednesday on the news that the UK government had given in to political and media pressure and agreed to bring forward the implementation date for FOBT minimum stake cuts to April 2019.

The cause for the surge lies in a Contingent Value Rights security issued by GVC as part of its takeover of Ladbrokes in March 2018. The CVR required GVC to make the payment to former Ladbrokes shareholders if a cap on the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) was not implemented by March 28, 2019.

Analysts estimate that the saving to GVC is around GBP 670 million, as the government’s revised implementation date negates the need for the CVR payment.

“The one-off cost to GVC of the earlier implementation of the FOBT cuts is around 80 million pounds, so materially less than it would have to pay out if implementation was delayed,” said Simon Davies, analyst at Canaccord Genuity.

GVC shares closed up 5.6 percent, posting their best day in two weeks.

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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