Strong sports betting revenue growth helped Sportingbet post a 23% increase in net gaming revenue to £147m for the six months to 31 July, up from £119m a year ago. Operating profit more than trebled to £22.7m, which the company said reflected its successful restructuring following withdrawal from the US market in 2006.
Sports betting revenues, the key driver of the Sportingbet business, rose 45% on the back of an increased product range and a strong performance in Europe and Australia, where net gaming revenues rose by 43% and 54% respectively. Sports betting represented 61% of the group's income, up from 52% last year, which the company said reinforced its strategy of continued investment in that area.
Operational highlights included significant contributions from its investment in emerging Eastern European markets, with the key markets of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria growing by an aggregate of 79% year-on-year, to generate 13% of Group NGR. Investment in the Latin American market also saw Sportingbet establish its business in the region, with Brazil as the focal point.
Chief executive Andy McIver said: “It has been an exciting year for Sportingbet. The completion of the group's restructuring resulted in a more than three-fold increase in adjusted operating profit and leaves us well positioned to capitalise on the strong position we have in many of our markets.”
The company said it had seen no evidence of its business having been impacted by the recent turmoil in the financial sector, and that it anticipated the imminent launch of live sports streaming on its websites alongside other new product launches to continue to drive customer yields and retention throughout the year.
Sportingbet also announced yesterday that the second of its two employees that were detained by the Turkish authorities back in May has been released pending trial, provisionally set for 26 January 2009. Charges have yet to be formalised. The first of the employees was released in July without charge and allowed return to the UK. Sportingbet no longer has any operations in the territory.