Ladbrokes Coral owner GVC Holdings said it is confident of hitting profit forecasts for 2019 after growing net gaming revenue by 8% in the three months to March 31. That was largely driven by 17% growth in online operations and 13% growth in sports wagers, as land-based revenues were flat. The maximum stake on FOBTs is has just been reduced from £100 to £2, but the recent results represented good news for nervous shareholders in GVC. Chief executive Kenny Alexander called it “an excellent start” to the year. “We continue to see good volume growth across all major online brands and territories and we remain very confident of achieving our target of double-digit online NGR growth,” he said. “The impact of soft gross win margins in Italy and the UK was offset by improved margins in other territories. In UK Retail and European Retail, improved sports wagering growth helped offset softer sports gross win margins.” He added that it will be several weeks before the firm can assess the impact in changes to the FOBT stakes.
The UK Gambling Commission launched a stinging rebuke to Paddy Power and Betfred after they tried to circumvent the maximum stake change. Betfred launched a game called Virtual Cycling, allows punters to place bets on a piece of paper obtained over the counter, showing a graphic similar to a roulette table. The game featured a maximum stake of £500. Paddy Power’s game is called Pick ‘n’ 36 and featured a maximum stake of £100, the same level as FOBTs before the new restrictions. Players could bet on numbers between 1 and 36, as well as on other eventualities similar to roulette. The Gambling Commission told them to remove the games, and senior officials at both firms could face sanctions. Richard Watson, executive director for enforcement, said: “We have been absolutely clear with operators about our expectations to act responsibly following the stake cut implementation this week. We have told operators to take down new products which undermine the changes, and we will investigate any other products that are not within the spirit and intention of the new rules.”
Unibet is one of five betting sites to fall foul of Advertising Standards Authority rules around appealing to children with their marketing. The agency found 23 gambling ads appeared 151 times over a two-week period on a number of websites aimed at children. Vikings Video Slot, Redbet, Multilotto, Unibet and PlayOjo all breached the code. They all accepted they had broken the rules, and it mainly related to mistakes made by their affiliates.
Betway has extended its deal as the official betting partner to the Grand National for a further five years. It signed a three-year deal back in 2017. “The Randox Health Grand National Festival is a fantastic event and we couldn’t be happier with how the last two years have gone” said chief executive Anthony Werkman. “The racing over the three days is of the highest quality and we’re delighted to be continuing our involvement for a further five years. With massive crowds on the racecourse and a huge TV audience, the National meeting is one of the biggest occasions in the sporting calendar and one that we are proud to be a part of.”
The Paddy Power website and app crashed in the aftermath of the Grand National, leaving punters unable to withdraw their winnings. Down Detector, which monitors social mentions across the web, showed thousands of reports of outages across the UK. Areas including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham were all hit, according to Down Detector.