Online sports betting industry news round up: Paddy Power, Ladbrokes

By Martin Green14 August 2018
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Paddy Power Betfair chief executive Peter Jackson said the firm has “got its mojo back” after delivering 5% revenue growth in the first half of 2018. Profit grew 4% to £106 million as the World Cup gave the online betting giant a welcome shot in the arm. However, the City was unimpressed as the growth fell short of previous expectations and shares in the group fell 3.3%. Paddy Power Betfair downgraded its full-year earnings guidance was trimmed by around £12.5 million, disappointing investors. It blamed the introduction of additional taxes in Australia and the inclusion of losses from the $770 million takeover of FanDuel for the change in forecasts. Analysts at investment bank Citi have downgraded Paddy Power Betfair from “neutral” to “sell”, switching revenue growth from +2% to -1% per annum. Read more at Proactive Investors.

Paddy Power has built its brand on the back of outrageous marketing stunts and daring ads, and Jackson said the group may exit the Italian market after the country’s new coalition government decided to ban gambling advertising. It pulled Paddy Power out of the market in 2017 and replaced it with Betfair, which has tied up a sponsorship deal with Serie A champions Juventus. That deal is likely to fall foul of the new ban. “It’s quite tough in Italy when you can’t advertise to grow,” said Jackson. One of Paddy Power’s three founders, Stewart Kenny, has clashed with Jackson over the issue of advertising. “There needs to be a radical change, as it’s normalising gambling for kids,” Kenny said. “I don’t think any parent in the country really appreciates being bombarded with the amount of gambling advertising. I don’t even think it’s in the interests of the betting industry because I think it’s alienating them from all the parents in the country.” He criticised Jackson for claiming that a ban could encourage illegal operators. Read more at The Times.

Ladbrokes has been hit with a 24-hour ban on accepting bets in Belgium after breaching the country’s gaming regulations. The bookmaker admitted that it accepted wagers on unauthorised virtual sports between 2017 and 2018. As punishment its website will be unable to accept bets in Belgium on September 3 and its 100 betting shops in the country will be closed. Read all about it at The Brussels Times.

Charities are creating an online Scottish gambling education hub in order to warn youngsters about the perils of gambling to excess. Industry funded charity GambleAware has provided Scottish charity Fast Forward with £750,000 to launch the scheme. A pilot initiative in Aberdeenshire will see schoolchildren on the potential harm that gambling can create. “It’s excellent news that Aberdeen will pilot this bold strategy and I hope it brings some comfort to the young people and their parents in this city who have experienced utter misery and massive debt as a result of gambling addiction whilst studying,” said Kevin Stewart, Aberdeen Central MSP. “I am determined to do all I can to help bring more awareness to the problem of gambling and how it affects young folk.” The Press and Journal has more on this.

Canada’s Stars Group has reported a 34.8% year-on-year increase in revenue for the second quarter of 2018. Earlier this year it bought British bookmaker Sky Bet in a$4.7 billion deal, adding it to a roster of brands that already included Bet Stars and Poker Stars. It said that Sky Bet will be at the forefront of its US expansion plans and chief executive Rafi Ashkenazi added: “The continued emergence of our sports betting and casino offerings and the addition of our 2018 acquisitions have transformed our business and greatly enhanced the foundation and diversity of our consolidated revenue base, which will now be nearly equally split among verticals and roughly 75% locally regulated or taxed.” Seeking Alpha has a slide of its results.