(Alliance News) - Online betting firm 888 Holdings on Thursday offered an additional payout to shareholders, as revenue jumped by more than 50% in 2020 and adjusted profit doubled, as lockdowns to combat the spread of coronavirus created a boom on online gaming.
"With billions of people worldwide sheltering at home for prolonged periods of time, and with the widespread eradication of in-person gambling and other forms of entertainment, the appeal and popularity of online gambling increased significantly," 888 said.
The stock was up 5.7% to 352.46 pence in London early Thursday. It is up 23% so far in 2021.
Gibraltar-based 888 declared a final dividend of 10.4 US cents, plus an additional one-off payout of 1.6 cents. Combined with the interim dividend of 6.0 cents, the annual dividend of 18.0 cents for 2020 was triple the 6.0 cents paid for 2019. Amid the onset of the virus pandemic last year, 888 had cut its dividend for 2019 by more than half from 12.2 cents in 2018.
Pretax profit in 2020 fell to USD26.7 million in 2020 from USD45.3 million in 2019, due to USD78.2 million in exceptional charges, up from just USD2.3 million in such charges in 2019. The 2020 charges related primarily to a goodwill impairment on 888's bingo business.
Removing that, adjusted pretax profit doubled to USD116.0 million from USD53.2 million.
Revenue rose by 52% to USD849.7 million from USD560.3 million.
Among 888's consumer-facing businesses, casino revenue was by far the biggest contributor, up 63% to USD586.8 million in 2020 from USD359.3 million in 2019. Sport revenue rose 36% to USD122.1 million, poker by 48% to USD63.1 million, and bingo by 9.9% to USD42.3 million.
Business-to-business revenue increase by 19% to USD35.4 million.
888 said revenue from regulated and taxed markets represented 73% of the total, down slightly from 74% in 2019. Revenue rose by 63% in the UK and by 69% in Italy. In the US, 888 reported 71% revenue growth in the state of New Jersey.
Looking ahead, 888 said the annualised impact of regulatory and compliance changes will create a USD70 million to USD100 million headwind to revenue in 2021, but it still expects to deliver revenue growth in the year ahead.
"We are pleased with our continued progress in the US," commented Chief Executive Officer Itai Pazner, "and with three new states set to launch in 2021, we are poised to see the scale benefits of our investments here. We enter 2021 with strong momentum, with a record level of customers, and with a positive reaction to our suite of new products and innovations."
888 had USD190 million in cash on hand at the end of 2020, up from USD96.9 million a year before.
By Tom Waite; email@example.com
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