Flutter Entertainment has reported strong trading across its full UK and Ireland brand portfolio from last week’s Cheltenham Festival, particularly bolstered by the unique timing of this year’s racing calendar.
The FTSE100 betting and gaming group recorded total stakes of over £250m and 37 million online bets over the four days of the festival across its Paddy Power, Sky Bet and Betfair brands.
With the fourth and final day of the event, which featured the popular Gold Cup taking place on St Patrick’s Day, Flutter stated that this proved particularly beneficial to its UK and Ireland Paddy Power retail outlets.
Flutter’s Chief Trading Officer, Dom Crosthwaite, said: “It was another memorable Cheltenham, and it was pleasing this year to see the Festival’s mass market appeal mirror the recreational nature of our customer base.
“We delivered a great customer proposition for our flagship brands, with a series of recent product upgrades and marketing campaigns driving strong staking levels of well over £250m.
“This was all made possible by our talented colleagues in Flutter UK&I, who worked incredibly well to seamlessly manage over 37 million online bets across the week.”
It is currently unclear as to how Flutter’s Cheltenham trading will positively or negatively impact the firm’s overall performance, coming off the back of a strong 2022 business year which saw revenue rise 27% to £7.69bn (2021: £6.03bn).
However, the fast-developing market of the US appeared to be the future growth child for the company, although its home markets of the UK and Ireland continued to improve with a 4% uptick in revenue to £2.1bn (FY2021: £2.05bn).
From the outset, the popular UK and Ireland betting event of Cheltenham could prove to be a mixed bag for Flutter, its brands and competitors from across both nation’s respective gaming landscape.
Flutter itself noted that the festival was ‘nail-biting from a bookmaking perspective’ due to several customer-friendly results on day one, which saw favourites win five of the day’s seven races.
However, a number of outsiders clinching victories on the Wednesday and Thursday may have meant big wins for lucky few but less so for the majority, with Flutter noting: “As a result, Flutter’s UK&I brands finished the week in the black, but didn’t have it all their own way.”
Regarding winnings, the group was keen to emphasise ‘big wins’ across its ‘low-staking, recreational customer base’, at a time when the conversation around sustainability and player protection in betting remains fierce.
Two punters taking part in the Sky Bet-sponsored free-to-play competition ITV7 won £100,000 and £200,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a Kildare customer gained €75,000 on a 20p ‘Lucky 63’ bet.
The company’s focus on its ‘low-staking, recreational’ bettors in post-Cheltenham reflections is interesting given the aforementioned regulatory environment in which UK and Irish betting firms are currently operating.
Both countries have been pursuing re-regulation in recent years, with legislative changes underway in both – albeit having been pursued and implemented much quicker in Ireland than in its neighbour to the east.
Much of the conversation ahead of Cheltenham has revolved around affordability checks and the potential impact of such measures on the punter experience, and the subsequent domino effect on the regulated betting industry and horse racing.
With the results of Cheltenham trading from both operators and suppliers still filtering out, the potential impact of such measures is as yet unclear.