A strong performance from its core European football betting component saw Sportingbet conclude a “robust first half of the financial year”, according to chief executive Andy McIver, as it recorded a 35% increase in operating profit to £10.1m for the second quarter, up from £7.5m for the comparable period a year earlier.
Helped by full football programmes across all European leagues, amounts wagered on sports betting in Europe over the period achieved year-on-year growth of 10%, to stand at £234.3m. Casino and gaming contributed a further £10.9m, and poker £5.3m. The quarterly performance saw operating profit for the half year reach £16.2m, 39% up on the figure achieved over the same period last year.
Football continues to dominate Sportingbet’s business, representing 62% of group sports revenue and 74% of European sports revenue over the quarter. The company’s core markets of Spain and Greece also continue to perform well, with revenues up 16% and 83% respectively. The company said the Spanish market was showing a marked improvement since being brought in-house.
There were however signs of the economic downturn impacting Sportingbet's Australian horse racing operations, particularly revenues from its higher staking Australian telephone business. Australian horse racing operations account for 15% of group sports revenue and 96% of the group's Australian sports revenue. A number of new state taxes and product levies also saw post-tax revenue falling 8% year-on-year to £4.5m. However, it added that it anticipated the negative effect of the tax regime to be increasingly offset by the positive impacts on the internet business of the relaxation on sports betting advertisements across the country’s leading racing states of New South Wales and Victoria.
The group also continued to expand its global footprint over the period. In December 2008, Sportingbet obtained a licence in South Africa for online sports betting, currently the only legal gaming product available in this market. It will also launch a Romanian language website in the third quarter of 2009 to capitalise on the high growth rates currently being seen in its Eastern European markets.
Andrew McIver, group chief executive, commented: "Quarter two concluded a robust first half of the financial year, with operating profit in the six months growing 39% to £16.2m. The Group's balance sheet remains strong with net cash of £27.3m. Demand for our market leading sports betting product continues to grow. The third quarter has started strongly and the Board remains cautiously optimistic for the full year outcome."