Tuesday 26 March 2019

Ladbrooks owner moves some services to Ireland ahead of Brexit

Ladbrokes (Stock photo) Photo: PA
Ladbrokes (Stock photo) Photo: PA
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Ladbrooks owner GVC is moving locating servers hosting its online gambling platform to the Republic of Ireland as it prepares for Brexit.

With just 24 days to go before the UK is due to leave the European Union the group said its online business will continue to be headquartered in Gibraltar.

In addition GVC said it is implementing or preparing plans that involve operating parts of the business which have customers in the EU under Malta online gambling licenses.

Ladbrooks has 141 betting shops in Ireland.

Elsewhere and GVC has posted soaring full-year sales but again warned that new rules for fixed-odds betting terminals will see around 1,000 shops shut.

Revenue jumped from £789.9m to £2.9bn in 2018 on a reported basis and was up 8pc proforma at £3.5bn, driven by a strong World Cup performance and the integration of Ladbrokes.

The group posted an £18.9m pre-tax loss in 2018, an improvement on the £22.6m the prior year.

GVC said profits were dragged down by £322.5m of amortisation charges linked to its £4bn acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral in March last year.

However, group underlying profit before tax came in at £434.6m, up from £151m.

GVC also reiterated that a Government move to cut the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2 will result in the closure of around 1,000 Ladbrokes Coral shops.

The firm said this will hit earnings by £135m in 2019, adding that it is trying to transition to a "smaller, right-sized and more sustainable estate" as smoothly as possible.

But boss Kenneth Alexander said that the firm is "well-placed" to absorb the impact of the new regulations.

He added: "2018 was a transformational year for the group with the completion of the Ladbrokes Coral acquisition in March making the group the largest online-led sports-betting and gaming operator in the world.

"Excellent operational execution, effective marketing and a good World Cup helped both the legacy GVC and the acquired Ladbrokes Coral businesses perform ahead of expectations and materially ahead of the market, delivering market share gains in all our major territories."

However, UK retail net gaming revenue was 3pc down on a like-for-like basis and 5pc on a total basis.

GVC is now turning its attention to taking advantage of deregulation in the US, which has allowed states to legalise sports betting.

To this end, it recently signed a deal for a joint venture with American casino group MGM Resorts.

(Additional reporting PA)

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