The new season of HBO’s Game of Thrones debuts on April 12, so what better way than to liven up this otherwise dull-as-dishwater review of three UK-listed online gambling operators’ earnings reports than with four of the show’s UK-born actresses?
Such as Reading native Nathalie Dormer (pictured right), who plays Margaery Tyrell, the bride who (spoiler alert) got to watch her husband Joffrey Baratheon die at his wedding feast before the little shit got to put his little girlish hands on her grown up woman goodies.
GALA CORAL GROUP
Gala Coral Group issued a fiscal Q1 trading update for the 16 weeks ending Jan. 17, showing continued strong performance by its digital division. Overall revenue was up 5% to £267.4m while earnings rose 11% to £67.3m.
Online revenue rose 27% to £45.8m while online earnings rose 19% to £12.9m. The numbers were all the more impressive given the infamous run of adverse football results that all the other operators are bitching about, plus the Dec. 1 imposition of the new 15% online point-of-consumption tax (POCT).
The quarter saw the merger of the back-office functions of Coral Interactive and Gala Interactive and the adoption of a single management structure, from which the company expects to realize a £1m cost reduction in the current fiscal year.
Coral.co.uk actives rose 49% and spend-per-head rose 17%. Mobile channels accounted for 61% of sports and casino stakes, up 13 points in sports and up 11 points in casino. GalaBingo.com spending was up 33% and mobile usage improved 17 points to 45% of stakes. Coral’s phone betting revenue rose 9% to £1.2m.
In Italy, the Eurobet.it operation saw actives rise 39% and both acquisition and retention levels are ahead of last year. Gala Coral says Eurobet managed to eke out a small gain in market share in January despite the arrival of Bet365 to the Italian market. Eurobet’s share was up 0.2 points while “all other major operators saw their share decline significantly” due to the Coates’ family steamroller.
Coral retail revenue was down 1% to £151.5m as OTC turnover fell 4% and OTC win fell 6%. Machine gaming stakes rose 2% and revenue rose 4%. Eurobet retail saw sports betting stakes rise 22% but revenue fell 26% thanks to similarly bad footie results. Gala retail revenue was largely flat but earnings rose 66% thanks to a reduction in bingo duty.
Nathalie Emmanuel (pictured left), who plays cunning linguist Missandei on GOT, puts the ‘sex’ in Essex. (Well, someone had to.) Her current love interest on the show is an ‘unsullied’ warrior, who is missing either his frank or his beans as a condition of his employment. If it’s the frank, he may be the only man incapable of rising to the occasion at the mere glimpse of Ms. Emmanuel.
Moving on, we find Gibraltar-based online casino operator 32Red reporting full-year revenue up 26% in 2014, the fifth straight year of double-digit gains. Even better, 32Red says those gains accelerated in Q2 and trading is up 35% in the first two months of 2015.
32Red’s flagship casino product earned £29.3m of the overall £32.1m revenue pie. 32Red says last year’s acquisition of the Go Wild online casino’s UK customer database will be “earnings enhancing” in 2015.
Over half of 32Red’s new customers now come via mobile channels. Mobile’s share of gaming revenue rose 11 points last year to 32% and 32Red says it will focus its efforts on this continuing trend.
Active player ranks rose 15% but cost per acquisition rose 18% to 184. Marketing increased 30% last year thanks to a new television campaign (“31,241 television advertisements viewed by 5.4m UK males”). There’s also 32Red’s new three-year partnership with Glasgow Rangers FC and the company’s willingness to “attach its name to more horse races in 2014 than any other sponsor.”
The company plans to sustain its marketing investment increase in 2015. Its share of the UK and other markets remains at “modest levels” but 32Red believes this is just all he more room to grow.
In Italy, revenue doubled to £1.1m as active player ranks rose 17%. 32Red says it held back on marketing in Italy last year but has begun running a new TV ad campaign starting Jan. 2.
Revenue from ‘Other’ streams was flat at £1.7m. 32Red added a Kambi Sports Solution sportsbook last June and the company says it’s encouraged by initial trading results and player recruitment. Poker and bingo verticals were credited only with making “steady contributions in highly competitive markets.” But the focus remains on cross-selling these ‘other’ bettors to the casino mothership.
Hollyoaks veteran Roxanne Mckee (pictured right) played Doreah, a former brothel girl who taught Daenerys Targaryen the bedroom artistry necessary to tame her brutish Dothraki husband. Sadly, Mckee has left the show, unless (spoiler alert) she found a way out of that enormous safety deposit box Danerys locked her in.
We finish up with Liverpool’s own Sportech, who had a so-so 2014. Overall revenue was off 2% in constant currency terms to £103m while earnings fell 5% to £24m.
Revenue from Sportech’s core Racing and Digital segment inched up 2% to £34.5m, of which £3.7m came via digital. Online revenue was flat in 2014 but earnings doubled to £1.2m thanks cost-cutting and “the recovery of a previously written-off debt.”
Poor weather in much of the US cancelled races and kept punters at home but this was partially offset by another good showing in the Dominican Republic and a full year’s contribution from its Data Tote acquisition.
Sportech’s Venues division saw revenue slip £1.6m to £32.5m. The mainstay operations in Connecticut eked out a $400k gain to £27m but earnings fell by a quarter to £3m. While betting revenue fell 3%, the MyWinners.com site – the state’s only licensed betting site – more than doubled revenue to £1m as punters chose to bet from home rather than brave the cold.
The Football Pools business saw revenue fall nearly 12% to £38m. Collector and overseas channels took a £2.7m hit while direct revenue slipped a comparatively modest £500k to £27m. The company re-launched its Footballpools.com site in October after integrating the NYX Gaming platform and cross-sell hopes are high for 2015.
The new year has been a mixed bag on the US front. Sportech warned that its contract to process wagers across California won’t be renewed after it expires in October 2015. This will put 3,500 betting terminals out of action but Sportech is confident it can “substantially mitigate” this loss by cost reductions and goosing up other revenue.
Speaking of, Sportech’s online gambling joint venture SNG Interactive successfully launched in New Jersey’s regulated market last month. SNG, which includes NYX, has partnered with Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel to offer a casino product (while Resorts waits for PokerStars to get the regulatory okay to launch its poker site).
We end our GOT tribute with Rose Leslie (pictured left), who played Ygritte, the wildiling who lived north of the wall but enjoyed Jon Snow’s lips south of her belly button. While Leslie finished her run on the show last season, her Ygritte will be remembered for being dead sexy despite 90% of her body being covered with winter clothing and for being strong enough to warrant thinking twice before you kick your next ginger.