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Betting giant 888’s finance chief to step down as online sales lag

The owner of betting giants 888 and William Hill has revealed its finance chief is stepping down after the group reported a dip in online sales.

Yariv Dafna, chief financial officer and executive director of 888 Holdings, will leave the role at the end of March, following the publication of its full-year results.

The gambling group said on Friday that its total revenues over the last three months of the year declined by 3%, driven by a fall in online sales.

Across the year, online revenues hit £1.33 billion, down 15% from the £1.57 billion made over 2021.

Previously, 888 has flagged that new regulations including improved safety measures for people using betting platforms in the UK has had an impact on revenues for the group, and it again blamed the changes for declining online sales.

Nevertheless, the World Cup gave the business a boost over the fourth quarter as it gained more customers and cashed in on existing ones both in shops and online.

Online player days at William Hill were up by 22% compared to the UEFA European Championship in the summer of 2021, it said.

It also enjoyed a resurgence in visitors to its high street betting shops in 2022, with retail sales jumping by more than half year-on-year, to £519 million from £337 million.

William Hill’s UK and European business, including its chain of 1,400 high street betting shops, was bought by 888 for £1.95 billion last year.

Following the takeover, it said it was accelerating plans to slash costs after the merger resulted in some inefficiencies, especially as its many businesses often compete with each other.

In November, the firm said it was looking to save up to £150 million.

Itai Pazner, the chief executive of 888, said: “The board and I would like to thank Yariv for the contribution he has made to 888 including playing a crucial role in the completion of our transformational combination with William Hill and leading the recent successful financing of 888’s external debt.

“On behalf of everyone at 888, I wish him the very the best in his future endeavours.

“Revenues during the fourth quarter saw continued strong trading in retail, and a robust performance online.

“As previously discussed, we continue to see pressure on our UK online revenues from regulatory change including the ongoing impact of the enhanced player safety measures, but I am confident we are building a sustainable leading business for the future.”

The firm said it expects its full-year earnings to be in line with the previous market guidance of between £305 million and £315 million, and revenues lower by a low single-digit percentage.

Shares in 888 were down by nearly 4% on Friday morning.