Lottery must act to protect its market share, or risk losing it

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Gambling firm 888 Holdings has published its 2019 full-year results.

Revenue was up 4% to $560.3m last year but the profit before tax fell from $108.7m to $45.3m. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 20% from $107.1m to $85.6m in 2019. The group’s cost ratio increased to 85% of revenue, compared to 80% in 2018.

888 said increased gaming duties in the UK, expansion in regulated and taxed markets and an increase in overheads due to the Betbright acquisition reduced profitability in 2019.

The company said it is “committed to expanding in the US” where it plans to strengthen its team, marketing and product during the year.

“We will continue to appraise potential partnerships that will support 888’s continued expansion and long-term prospects in the regulated US market,” the company said.

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888 also said it will continue to target merger and acquisition opportunities, despite the market uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cancellation of sporting events around the world will impact the group, however, there has been increased customer interest in its casino and poker products.

“Whilst the COVID-19 outbreak is setting back the global economy, 888 remains confident that it will be able to deliver on its plans for 2020 set out in this annual report,” the firm said.

Chief executive Itai Pazner said: “The Board is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on 888 and its customers.

“We continue to recognise that with people spending more time at home and with increased levels of stress and economic uncertainty, 888’s unwavering commitment to preventing gambling related harm is even more important than ever.

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“We are proactively communicating with our customers to provide information on safer gambling and, where necessary, offer support. In addition, in recent weeks we have introduced several new alerts to our proprietary safe gambling software, the Observer, which constantly scans all customer activity and flags any potential areas of concern to our highly trained customer care team to act upon in order to prevent harm.

“Underpinned by the strength of 888’s technology, our growing customer base and our talented and committed team, the Board continues to see a number of significant and exciting growth opportunities for 888 which we are confident of progressing during 2020 and beyond.”

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