888 sees casino and poker growth despite Covid-19 pandemic

24 March 2020

888 Holdings has reported a rise in customer activity across its casino and poker services, but the online gambling operator warned its sports betting business is likely to suffer as a result of cancelled events worldwide.

In a trading update, published rather than the scheduled full-year results announcement, 888 said the overall business had performed well in the year to date and was in line with the board’s expectations, with average daily revenue up 18% on the comparable prior year period.

Casino and sport verticals both saw average daily revenue increase 24% on the previous year. New customer acquisition across the group’s B2C business was 20% higher year-on-year, while B2C average daily deposits climbed 32%.

888 also noted that despite the current situation regarding novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it has seen evidence of increased customer activity across both its casino and poker products.

The operator said this could help compensate for the disruption to its sports betting business, which has been hit by the suspension or cancellation of almost all major sports events around the world.

Should severe disruption to global sporting events continue until September 2020, 888 said that this is likely to lead to a "high single digit millions of dollars" decline in group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the current financial year. Sports betting was responsible for 16% of 888’s total group revenue in 2019 it noted.

888 added that in the event of a prolonged period of global macro-economic uncertainty, consumer spending across its online gaming product verticals may also decline.

Meanwhile, the operator said that as people are now spending more time at home and face increased stress from economic uncertainty, its vigilance on safe gambling and preventing gambling-related harm becomes more important.

As such, 888 said it will continue to offer customers support and is proactively communicating with players to inform them about its safe gambling tools that allow them to limit and control their play.

In addition, 888 will continue to leverage its Observer software to scan player data and identify potential areas of concern to help prevent gambling harm.

“As a purely online operator with diversified brands across product verticals and geographies, a strong balance sheet with $99.5m (£85.3m/€91.8m) of cash and cash equivalents at the 2019-year end, and a proven track record of delivering operational efficiencies, the board is confident in 888’s ability to manage these challenges.

“Underpinned by the strength of 888’s technology, its growing customer base and the group’s talented and committed teams, the board continues to see a number of significant growth opportunities for the group which it is confident of progressing during 2020 and beyond.”

The update comes after 888 yesterday (23 March) announced it was to delay the publication of its full-year results for 2019, after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requested all listed businesses observe a two-week moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial results.

The operator was due to public its preliminary results for the year through to 31 December today, but will instead confirm a new date for the results in due course, subject to any further FCA guidance.

The FCA said the coronavirus pandemic had created “unprecedented practical challenges” for listed businesses and auditors, and the practice of issuing preliminary financial statements ahead of audited results was adding unnecessary additional pressure.