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Betting shop closures hit Ladbrokes-owner but online gambling booms

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
EDITORIAL USE ONLY A Ladbrokes betting shop in Dublin city centre prepares to safely re-open as GVC Holdings PLC announces plans to open all 138 Ladbrokes shops in Ireland from June 29th.
The closure of betting shops from March onwards in the UK led to a 50% slump in retail revenue. Photo: PA

Months of lockdown hit revenue and profits at Ladbrokes and Coral-owner GVC Holdings (GVC.L), as a surge in online gambling failed to offset the loss of business from its closed bookmaking stores.

GVC said on Thursday that revenue in the first half of the year fell 11% to £1.5bn ($1.96bn) and gross profit dropped 13% to £1bn.

The closure of betting shops from March onwards in the UK led to a 50% slump in retail revenue. European betting shops made 48% less than they did in the first half of 2019.

However, GVC saw surging online revenues as people stuck at home turned to gambling. Online revenue jumped 21%, driven by a 31% rise in gambling. GVC owns online gambling brands such as CasinoClub, Foxy Bingo, partypoker and PartyCasino.

Online earnings before interest and other costs jumped 53% to £368.6m, even as overall earnings fell. However, group earnings were at the top end of guidance given by the company last month.

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“Given the unprecedented trading environment, GVC has delivered an encouraging performance in the first half, underlining the strength of our diversified business model and the expertise, adaptability and dedication of our people,” new chief executive Shay Segev said in a statement.

GVC said it would not pay an interim dividend because of “continuing uncertainty around further lockdowns and restrictions as a result of COVID-19.”

However, the company said it was “well placed for the balance of the year” thanks to continued strong performance of its online business, the return of sports, and the re-opening of its retail operations.

Segev said GVC was now focused on expanding in the US and other new markets, as well as driving growth in its core business.

Shares rose over 1% at the open in London before quickly falling back.