By Yadarisa Shabong
(Reuters) - Europeans stuck at home because of the coronavirus may not have any sports events to bet on, but they are playing more poker and bingo online to relieve the boredom, online gambling software provider Playtech said on Thursday.
The company, the world's biggest supplier of technology for online gaming operators but now also a major gambling platform in its own right, said it was taking a major hit from the halting of sports events across the world.
Like hundreds of other listed firms, it laid out a series of steps to reinforce company finances for the months ahead, worried by the impact on the economy and household finances of coronavirus shutdowns across the world.
The delays in rolling out major sporting events have extracted a heavy toll on its B2B division, which is expected to book a loss of 4 million euros per month to adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).
Shares of the London-listed firm, which has had two-thirds of their value wiped off this year, were down more than 8% as of 0930 GMT.
Playtech's poker and bingo businesses saw an increase in activity in recent days due to restrictions on movement imposed by governments. However, it added that there was a risk that player behavior could change the longer the crisis continues.
On the bright side, the company said its trading platform and payment services business has benefited from the rise in market volatility and brought in core profit of over 30 million euros ($32.5 million) so far in 2020.
Playtech's Snaitech unit, Italy's biggest sports betting firm, was already hurt by lockdown measures imposed in the country, worst hit by the crisis in Europe, and the company said on Thursday that had been worsened by the postponements of sports events.
Playtech suspended all shareholder returns, both dividends and stock buybacks, to conserve cash amid uncertainty over the global economic outlook.
"Even if the current level of disruption continues for a prolonged period, the group has enough liquidity to last it well into the second half of 2021," Goodbody gaming & leisure analyst Gavin Kelleher, said in a note.
The company warned in January that 2020 results would be below market expectations because of a major hit to its two largest markets, Asia and Italy, from the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Anil D'Silva and David Evans)