Strong casino and sport rescue 888’s declining bingo and poker verticals

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Momentum across the casino and sport verticals have helped recover declining revenue for online gaming operator 888, who has reported an eight per cent decline for 2018 to $479.3m (2017: $486.6m), as the group published its financial results for the full year.

Detailing growth across several markets, chiefly Continental Europe, underpinned by a strong casino and sport based performance, 888 lauds its launch of Orbit which it calls “a new cutting-edge web-based casino platform” in addition to representing the company’s  “most exciting casino product innovation of recent years”.

Initially rolled out to .com markets, with further regulated jurisdictions to follow, its UK introduction in May of last year saw higher conversion rates, increases in the number of games played by customers and uplifts in new players acquired.  

Casino delivers an eight per cent revenue increase for 888 to $317.6m (2017: $293.9m), as well as seeing a 16 per cent jump in active players, excluding the UK, casino revenue increased 17 per cent.

A challenging overall market, coupled with withdrawal from a number of markets (primarily Poland and Australia) and the launch of the European interstate network, saw poker revenues dip 37 per cent for the year to $49m (2017: $77.9m), with active players also dropping eight per cent, 888 emphasised that it “remains committed to the poker market and confident of its long-term opportunities”.

The group’s bingo offering, which is predominantly focused on the UK market, also “remained challenging during 2018,” as 888 brought revenues of $32.4m, a 17 per cent decrease from the previous year’s $39.3m.

“Amongst other initiatives, we have continued our geographic expansion by obtaining important new licenses”

A strong performance during the FIFA World Cup over the summer, effective marketing investment, a greater number of events for customers to bet on and strong growth across regulated markets excluding the UK, saw 888 posts positive sport-based results.

A six per cent increase to $80.3m (2017: $75.5m) was coupled with a first time depositor boost of 21 per cent, excluding the UK these percentages are nudged further still to 18 and 28 per cent.

Itai Pazner, CEO of 888, who took the reigns from Itai Frieberger commented: “In my first report as CEO, I am delighted to update 888’s stakeholders on the significant strategic progress made by the group during 2018, and since the start of 2019.

“Amongst other initiatives, we have continued our geographic expansion by obtaining important new licenses; launched our most significant product innovation in recent years in the form of Orbit, a new casino platform; and announced three acquisitions including delivering on our long-stated ambition to add proprietary sports betting technology to 888.

“Despite headwinds in some areas of the business, the financial performance in 2018 was resilient and we achieved a record EBITDA outcome for the year.

“The group achieved continued growth across several regulated markets, primarily in Continental Europe, underpinned by good momentum in casino and sport.”

“The positive momentum at the end of 2018 has continued into the first quarter of 2019″

888 also praised a number of strategic manoeuvres during the period, primarily continued development in the US via the acquisition of the remaining 53 per cent interest in the All American Poker Network for $28.5m, 888Sport’s New Jersey launch and sponsorship of the state’s Jets NFL franchise and enhanced casino content within the Garden State.

New licences were also obtained in Sweden and Malta at the end of the year, as well obtaining the green-light in Portugal during the post the period end.

Pazner added on the organisation 2018 performance: “The positive momentum at the end of 2018 has continued into the first quarter of 2019, with average daily revenue in 2019 to date up 10 per cent compared to Q4 2018 reflecting improvements across major KPIs.

“In the UK, we are encouraged by the improving trends we began to witness in the latter stages of 2018, and the board is pleased to report that these have continued during the first quarter of the current financial year.

“Average daily revenue at constant currency in our UK B2C business up by more than 10 per cent year-on-year in Q1 so far. Overall group trading during the financial year to date is 5 per cent higher at constant currency year on-year.

“The group continues to base its success on its unique technology-edge, fantastic team and diversification across products and markets. Underpinned by the strength of 888’s technology and the significant strategic progress made by the group over recent months, the board continues to see a number of significant growth opportunities for 888 in both new and existing markets. We look forward to another exciting year of progress in 2019.”