Stay-home poker players, gamers boost Flutter first-half earnings

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Half-year earnings at Paddy Power, Betfair and Poker Stars owner Flutter Entertainment FLTRF.I rose 35% year-on-year as a jump in poker and gaming players more than offset a global sports shutdown at the world’s largest online betting group.

The COVID-19 pandemic called a near total halt to global sports occasions for two months from mid-March, with big events popular with gamblers like the English Premier League put on hold and 2020 European Championships postponed by a year.

However Flutter said favourable sports results in the first quarter, the continuation of horse racing in Australia and a jump in the number of people playing poker and gaming online boosted revenues and earnings.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 684 million pounds year-on-year, including 2019 and 2020 Stars Group Inc (TSG) revenues, with whom it completed a $6 billion merger in May.

“The cancellation of sports and closure of our shops… was more than offset by an increase in the number of recreational customers playing our poker and gaming products globally, as people sought new forms of home entertainment,” Chief Executive Peter Jackson said in a statement.

“The group’s first half financial performance exceeded expectations.”

There was also encouraging trading to date in the second half of the year, benefiting from condensed football fixtures, favourable sports results and ongoing resilience of gaming.

Assuming no material further disruption to sporting events, Flutter expected full year EBITDA of between 1.175 to 1.325 million pounds.

That excluded its heavy investment into the United States, where an EBITDA loss of 140 to 160 million pound loss is expected throughout 2020.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin. Editing by Carmel Crimmins

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