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888's revenue leaps 50% as lockdown leads to gambling surge

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Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
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Shamrock Rovers jersey featuring the club's main sponsor 888sport. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty
Shamrock Rovers jersey featuring the club's main sponsor 888sport. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty

Online gaming group 888 (888.L) has revealed a surge in revenues, thanks to a lockdown-driven gambling boom.

888 said its revenue rose by 52% last year to $849.7m (£608m). Revenues at its online casino surged over 60% and the take from its online poker business was up almost 50%. UK revenues grew by more than 60%.

Surging sales came as COVID-19 prompted people around the world to search for entertainment during lockdowns. 888 said it signed up nearly 1.5m new customers last year, a record high.

Adjusted profits more than doubled to $116m. Pre-tax profits dropped year-on-year to $26.7m, due to a $79.9m one-off goodwill impairment charge at 888's bingo business.

888 quadrupled its final dividend to 12p per share. The stock surged 6% in London.

"2020 was a landmark year for 888, with our team navigating the many challenges presented by a global pandemic to deliver record financial results, and significant progress against our strategic priorities," said chief executive Itai Pazner.

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888 said it was investing in tools to help spot and manage problem gambling. The company said it was targeting expansion in the US, which is seen as the biggest growth market in the world for gambling.

"We are pleased with our continued progress in the U.S., and with three new states set to launch in 2021, we are poised to see the scale benefits of our investments here," Pazner said.

Regulatory costs and changes could cost 888 up to $100m in 2021, the company said, but the business has seen "strong momentum in 2021 so far."

"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," Pazner said. "The Board believes that 888 has an outstanding platform to deliver continued strategic progress during 2021 and beyond."

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