Online gambling
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A strong online performance has resulted in 888 Holdings documenting a solid first half of the year, as igaming and online poker offset COVID-19 impacted sporting shortfalls.

Lauding strong momentum in the US where revenue increasing by 90 per cent year-on-year, reflecting significant B2C growth in New Jersey, H1 group revenue increased 37 per cent to $379.1m (2019: $277.3m).

On a B2C basis revenue reached $361.3m, a 38 per cent increase from $262.5m, led by strong performances across casino and poker which recorded rises of 72 per cent and 103 per cent in first time depositors. Across the group’s B2C brands FTDs rose 49 per cent.

Casino revenue was up 48 per cent for the period to finish at $260m (2019: US$175.4m), with poker increasing 56 per cent from $23.1m to $36.1m. Bingo revenue increased eight per cent to $21.1m (2019: $19.5m).

This offset an anticipated drop in the firm’s sports segment, with a one per cent dip to $44.1m (2019: $44.5m) coming as a result of global cancellations and postponements from March to June. 

Within its operational review, 888 asserts that “the flow of poker players also playing casino and sport continued to be an important element of the B2C business.”

Profit before tax reached $50.9m (2019: $22.2m), with adjusted EBITDA increasing 56 per cent to $70.1m (2019: $44.9m) as a result of strong revenue growth and operational gearing in both marketing and operating expenses.

Itai Pazner, CEO of 888, explained: “888 has performed very well throughout the first half of 2020 with robust year-on-year growth in revenue and adjusted EBITDA of 37 per cent and 56 per cent respectively. 

“This outcome reflects the group’s continued strong levels of customer acquisition, general consumer trends towards increased use of online services especially during the COVID-19 lockdown period and 888’s relentless focus on product leadership. 

“We recognised early on that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a material impact on the lives of our customers across many global markets and this required an appropriate response from 888. We were therefore quick to increase our vigilance on safe gambling and preventing gambling-related harm. 

“We are pleased with our continued progress in the US where revenue increased by 90 per cent year-on-year reflecting the group’s outstanding B2C growth in New Jersey as well as strong performances from our B2B partners. We remain excited by the potentially significant medium-to-long-term opportunities for 888 in the US market.”

During the third quarter the company says that it has continued to operate ahead of expectations, with average daily revenue 56 per cent higher year-on-year.

This performance reflects the group’s high levels of customer acquisition during the year to date, as well as the benefit from the structural shift towards online services that has accelerated across several consumer-facing industries during recent months. 

As a result, the board now anticipates that 888 will achieve an adjusted EBITDA outcome for 2020 significantly ahead of its prior expectations.

Pazner continued: “888 is looking forward to delivering further product enhancements including the introduction of our new poker product across markets during H2 2020 and the launch of our proprietary sportsbook in the UK early next year. 

“In addition, we are continuing to invest in safe gambling tools and will begin the roll-out of a new customer-centric safe gambling feature called the ‘Control Centre’ later this year that will offer customers an improved interface to help them understand better their gambling behaviour. 

“As a result of the group’s continued momentum, as well as its strengths as a product-centric, responsible and diversified operator, the board believes that 888 has a unique platform to deliver continued strategic progress during H2 and beyond.”