888 Holdings Lowers Revenue Expectations amid UK Regulatory Crackdown

Posted on: June 23, 2022, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2022, 10:27h.

Increased restrictions in the UK’s online gambling industry are taking their toll on 888 Holdings. As a result, the gaming operator expects lower half-year revenues, compounded by its temporary withdrawal from the Netherlands.

888 Holdings CEO Itai Pazner
888 Holdings CEO Itai Pazner. The global gaming company expects weaker revenue in the first half of the year than it previously reported. (Image: Getty Images)

Today’s sharp fall in shares of 888 saw them lose 7.13%, as 888 provided its update. They dropped from £12.50 (US$15.28) to £162.80 (US$199.04). This is after they fell more than 58% over the past year.

In the six months ending June 30, the company anticipates that its revenue will be between £330million and £335 million (US$403.45 million and $409.57 million). Although this is lower than previous forecasts, the company said that it is “broadly consistent with board expectations.” In April, the company reported a year-on-year decrease in revenue of 18%.

Unexpected Slowdown

888 reported half-year revenue of just above £431 million (US$526.98 million) a year ago. For the year ended February 28, 2022, the London-listed company generated revenue of £690 million (US$843.45 million) with an adjusted core profit of £109 million (US$133.23 million).

888 admitted that it received a boost from the reopening of retail operations in the UK. However, it noted that safer gambling measures the UK Gambling Commission and the country are implementing have had an impact on its operations.

After the update sank in, 888’s stock continued to slide. As trading on the London Stock Exchange closed, the price was £160.70 (US$196.49). This is much lower than its one-year high of £478 (US$584.50) on September 22 of last year. Since June 2021, the price has lost 59.68%.

888 Looks for New Money

Separately, 888 today presented a senior secured offer worth £1.02 billion (US$1.24 billion). It stated that it would use the proceeds of the offering to reduce debt and finance the acquisition of William Hill.

In April, the group agreed to purchase William Hill’s international assets from Caesars Entertainment. It also stated that it expects Capex for 2022 to be slightly lower than last year for William Hill and 888.

The purchase of William Hill’s international assets from Caesars could close on July 1. 888 values the purchase anywhere from £1.95 billion to £2.05 billion (US$2.38 billion to $2.5 billion).

William Hill operates approximately 1,400 betting shops across the UK, as well as many online brands. The revenue for William Hill for the 26 weeks to June 28, according to the company, will fall between £620 million and £630 million (US$757.82 million and $770.17 million).

888 bosses also stated that they expect to enter into a £150-million (US$183.34 million) multicurrency revolving loan facility. When issued, this will be an undrawn facility.

Acquiring William Hill’s assets will be a transformative event for the company. The deal propels the company to third in the UK. As a result of the acquisition, it will control an estimated market share of 12%. This is behind leader Flutter, at 30%, and Entain with its 17%. The latter’s position comes through the ownership of Coral and Ladbrokes.

In addition, 888 will have a strong position in other markets. For example, the newly-combined group will be among the top three in Spain and the top five in Italy.

As a result, it will have better chances of increasing operating margins due to its increased scale. 888 has also set £100 million (US$122.32 million) as a target for cost synergies by 2025.