888 Holdings Sees Revenue Increase, Still Faces Difficulties

Posted on: August 16, 2023, 08:22h. 

Last updated on: August 16, 2023, 12:36h.

Gaming operator 888 Holdings has had a rough time since it bought William Hill’s non-US assets, with revenue not meeting expectations. That trend will likely continue, according to a new update, although the company sees improvements on the horizon.

A person walks by a William Hill shop
A person walks by a William Hill shop. The 888 Holdings company has helped its parent see more revenue, although there’s more work needed. (Image: Martin Lee via Getty Images)

The latest financial update from 888 shows that it saw revenue growth of 165% across the first six months of the year. The final tally was $1.12 billion, with EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) jumping 211% to $198 million.

However, after paying all of its requisite taxes, it reported a loss of around $42 million. For the first half of last year, it saw a profit of about $15 million.

Mixed Markets Lead to Mixed Results

Despite experiencing a surge in retail revenue of 6%, the positive impact was countered by a substantial decline of 11% in online gaming revenue. The setbacks can be attributed to elevated interest expenses, as well as borrowing and one-time expenditures stemming from the acquisition of William Hill.

As a result, the overall revenue across the group witnessed a notable decrease of 7%. This dip could primarily be ascribed to regulatory alterations that impacted the online segment and a business approach centered on market orientation.

The company said in its update that it swiftly responded by adapting its business model, resulting in sales predominantly driven by local regulations and taxes, accounting for a substantial 95% of Q2 2023 revenue. In conjunction with this, the group’s pro forma adjusted EBITDA experienced a noteworthy growth of 9%, while the pro forma adjusted EBITDA margin concurrently expanded by 2.6%, reaching 17.7%.

888 anticipates robust year-over-year growth in adjusted EBITDA for fiscal year 2023. It forecasts a notable upsurge in the adjusted EBITDA margin for the entire year, reaching a minimum of 20%, a considerable improvement from the 16.8% recorded in 2022.

Part of this predicted improvement will come through William Hill’s operations. Where the online operator accounted for 14.1% of the UK market a year ago, it now owns 14.9%.

However, an increase in the customer base doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in revenue. William Hill’s data showed a slowdown in spending by bettors compared to last year.

Accountability in Gibraltar

Gaming officials in Gibraltar say they will be scrutinizing the market more closely, and this is going to impact 888. Subsidiary Virtual Global Digital Services will pay a fine of $3.7 million because it didn’t properly adhere to Gibraltar’s Know Your Customer and anti-money-laundering policies.

That’s a lot less than the $23.7 million 888 paid in the UK for similar failings. That fine led to the departure of then-CEO Itai Pazner after 20 years with the company and the suspension of VIP betting accounts in the Middle East.

Despite the setbacks, the forecast financial improvements have buoyed 888’s shares. Although they experienced a sudden plummet to £105 (US$133) Wednesday morning on the London Stock Exchange, the latest information shows the company trading at £111 (US$141.24) at press time. This is the highest it’s been in the last six weeks.