GVC Holdings, the owner of Ladbrokes Coral, has cancelled its interim dividend after lockdown restrictions and the COVID-19 pandemic caused live sports events and matches to be cancelled or postponed and all its betting shops to close.
The company has also predicted that its underlying earnings for the year will fall in the region of £720m to £740m.
While customers placed fewer sports bets during the nationwide lockdown, GVC Holdings benefitted from a rise in online revenues thanks to two of its key brands – Foxy Bingo and Gala Bingo – both of which grew in popularity.
The increase in online bingo activity is believed to be due to players switching from playing in-club to internet-based bingo brands. GVC also owns Ladbrokes and Coral and so many of their sportsbook customers will also have tried other online gaming activities.
In addition to the financial boost gained from increased online bingo profits, GVC Holdings also enjoyed a 43% increase in its net revenues in Australia where horse racing was allowed to continue despite betting shops having to close and the Aussie Rules football league being temporarily suspended.
The company’s 2019 profits were £761m, so the predictions of £720m to £740m for 2020 are far from catastrophic. However, GVC’s board of directors have decided not to reward shareholders with a dividend as a “prudent” measure.
GVC appointed a new chief executive, Shay Segev, in July 2020 and he hopes to further expand into new countries including the US. GVC currently operates a joint venture with the American casino operator, MGM Resorts, and is keen to penetrate the US market further as it believes that the country offers the “single biggest growth opportunity.”
GVC Holdings is one of the world’s biggest gaming and sports betting companies. It employs more than 24,000 staff and operates brands in over 20 different countries including the UK, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Belgium, Germany, and France. The company was founded in 2004 and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.