New clients help 888 top $90m


Online gambling group 888, which last week broke off takeover talks with bookmaker Ladbrokes, has bounced back from the loss of its American players to post better-than-expected full-year results and improved current trading.

Despite losing 55pc of its revenues when the US outlawed internet gambling last October, profits jumped 34pc to $90.5m (£45m) before tax, $4m of reorganisation costs and $8.8m of share incentives for directors and staff. In the first quarter of this year, net gaming revenue is up 19pc to $47m.

Gigi Levy, who took over as chief executive from John Anderson at the end of last year, said the loss of “the majority of our 26m registered customers” could have “potentially delivered a lethal blow to the business”.

The group axed 210 jobs, or 23pc of the workforce, and cut marketing costs by 16pc to $84.3m, but stepped up research and development spending by 71pc to $19.4m to lure fresh customers.

New multi-hand poker, blackjack and backgammon games, plus the acquisition of Globalcom’s bingo business, has helped win new clients.

Poker performed particularly strongly, with net revenues from continuing operations up 80pc to $68.2m. A further $60.9m of poker revenues came from the now discontinued US business. Ongoing casino revenues rose from $85.2m to $88.8m.

Mr Levy said 888 was looking at new ways to retain clients, such as developing sports content sites offering exclusive data. Shares in 888, which is paying a final 8.88 cent dividend, rose ¾ to 120¼p.

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