UK gambling operator Gala Coral Group reported a 18% rise in earnings in its fiscal Q3 as it ramped up its search for a way to offload its underperforming bingo business. Revenue in the three months ending July 5 rose 10% to £208.3m while earnings were up £10.3m to £67.2m.
Revenue from Coral’s retail betting operation rose 6% to £155.7m, but earnings were flat at £35.5m. OTC wagering revenue was up 9% thanks to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which helped offset a poor Royal Ascot showing. Revenue from Coral shops’ fixed-odds betting terminals was up 4% to £83.7m, eclipsing OTC win by £11.7m. In Italy, revenue at Eurobet’s 870 shops rose 184% year-on-year to £7.1m while earnings rose 382% to £5.3m.
Group online revenue rose 50% to £35.3m while earnings rose 51% to £13m. Coral.co.uk’s active customer ranks rose 94% to 381.7m, which boosted sports betting handle 126% year-on-year (90% excluding World Cup wagers) as well as a 140% gain in in-play wagering. Online sports win rose 121% to £5.5m while gaming win rose 111% to £15.8m. Two-thirds of Coral’s digital customers are now wagering via their mobile devices, up 19.2 points from the same period last year.
Galabingo.com saw its active customer ranks fall 1% but spending her head rose 29% as the company put more focus on its real-money players and the site’s win was also up 29% to £4.4m. Galacasino.com was also minimizing its free-play push, resulting in a 44% decline in active customers but stakes rose 37% and gross win was up 31% to £1.2m. It Italy, Eurobet.it actives rose 42%, sports handle was up 39% and sports win rose 114% to £2.2m. Eurobet’s gaming stakes rose 11% while gaming win was up 28% to £400k. The company declined to offer specifics on its recently launched Gala.se operation in Sweden.
As has become a pattern, Gala Bingo’s retail numbers were either down or flat but cost-cutting measures helped boost earnings. Revenue fell 2% to £46.8m as admissions remained unchanged from the previous year but earnings rose 24% to £8.2m thanks to a 9% reduction in operating costs. On Friday, Gala announced it had hired bankers at Lazard to find someone to take its retail bingo operation off its hands. Analysts have speculated a sale of the 135-club bingo chain could bring in more than £250m.
Gala also announced that it would follow the lead of William Hill and Ladbrokes by closing a number of its UK betting shops this fall in preparation for the new 25% machine games duty announced in this year’s budget. Gala isn’t yet sure how many of its 1,800 shops it will close but said it was “likely to be in line” with those announced by Hills (109) and Lads (50).