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GVC nudges up profit guidance despite softer quarter

9th October, 07:29

Online net gaming revenue grew 12%, slowing from 17% in the first half of the year

GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) nudged its full-year profit target higher as the Ladbrokes owner reported an "encouraging start" in the US to help offset a slower quarter for gaming revenue growth.

Group net gaming revenue (NGR) fell 1% in the third quarter ending 30 September due to a tough comparison with last year when part of the period was boosted by the final stages of the football World Cup.

Online NGR grew 12%, slowing from the 17% in the first half of the year, while NGR declines worsened at the UK retail arm to 18% from 10% in the first half, as the impact of the cut to fixed-odds betting machine stakes in April and closure of 41 more betting shops.

Digital trading was good "across all major territories", said chief executive Kenneth Alexander, hailing September's launch of a sports betting app in New Jersey as part of the joint venture with MGM Resorts.

Full-year guidance for underlying profits (EBITDA pre-IFRS16) was lifted to £670mln-£680mln, from £650mln-£670mln, as online sports margins improved, trends in UK bookmaker's shops remained ahead of initial guidance and a debt refinancing trimmed costs.

With German regulation under scrutiny, GVC said there had been "no material developments" since the update in August, which the company suggested offers the "realistic possibility that the regulatory position will not be resolved until 2021", though there was some news from Brazil, where an open licensing system with a 1% turnover tax is expected in late 2020 or early 2021.

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