Betsson outrides pandemic challenges as regulatory dramas loom

Betsson AB has published its 2020 interim results stating that it has ‘delivered all-time highs in revenues under the most challenging conditions’.

The Stockholm-listed online gambling group praised its swift actions undertaken during March, which allowed the company to continue to ‘execute the strategic priorities’ as part of its ongoing transformation programme.

Trading under unprecedented circumstances, Betsson recorded Q2 2020 group revenues of SEK 1.532bn (€150m), an increase of 20% on corresponding Q1 2019’s SEK 1,277bn (€123m).

Q2 trading saw Betsson’s online casino properties generate 84% of group revenues, recording a 40% increase to SEK 1.286 bn (Q1 2019: SEK 900m).  Casino growth helped Betsson overcome a 34% decline in Q2 sportsbook revenues to SEK 226m (Q1 2019: SEK 341m)

“We responded quickly and decisively to make changes in our offer, and I am particularly pleased to see the strong performance in casino,” said Pontus Lindwall President and CEO Betsson AB 

“Sports betting revenues continued to be impacted in the second quarter by the pandemic as expected, however benefited from the progressive return of football and other sporting events at the end of the quarter. Our business has remained financially robust and resilient to this impact, being both diversified and flexible.”

Maintaining Q2 revenue growth, Betsson saw its year-to-date operating income increase to SEK 478m (€46m), a 6% rise on H1 2019’s SEK 452m (€42m).

Breaking down its Q2 expenses, Betsson underlined a ‘high costs of services’ of SEK 574m (€55m) which was primarily attributed to operating its casino division as its sole vertical during pandemic trading.   

Closing H1 trading, Betsson declared a YTD net income of SEK 422m (€40m), up 5% on 2019’s SEK 400m.

The firm stated that strong revenue momentum has carried into Q3 2020, as Betsson recorded  35% higher daily average revenues.   

Despite its robust performance, Betsson management underlined its caution due to changing regulatory dynamics witnessed across key markets.

Beginning H2 trading, Betsson will have to counter increased taxes in Denmark, a ban of payment services providers in Norway and a temporary market suspension of online gambling across Latvia. 

Betsson governance highlighted its home market of Sweden as its biggest operating concern, as the government has implemented temporary safeguards and consumer protections on online casino. 

From July to end of 2020 trading,  the Swedish government will impose a  deposit limit of SEK 5,000 per week and a SEK 100 bonus limit as new customer protection measures.

Pontus Lindwall reflected on upcoming challenges: “During this pandemic, governments have been modelling a range of scenarios of potential impact, several governments took immediate temporary actions on our industry such as either suspending gambling both offline and online or implementing restrictions on marketing. 

“In the beginning of the third quarter, when most countries had removed Corona-related restrictions, Sweden sadly enough implemented restrictions on online casino, without empirical evidence. This measure will, unfortunately, push even more consumers to play outside of the Swedish regulation.

 “The immediate outlook is naturally uncertain, however, Betsson is in good shape and we are in it for the long term. Our proprietary technology is a strategic advantage, our diversification in markets, verticals and brands makes us resilient to market fluctuations and our financials are rock solid. This makes me optimistic about the prospects for Betsson.”

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