Ladbrokes owner Entain PLC (LON:ENT) upped its full-year earnings expectations after reporting faster gaming revenue growth in the second quarter as the easing of Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions allowed its betting shops to reopen.
In the UK, as restrictions have progressively eased, the FTSE 100 group said betting volumes are still around 10% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
For the second quarter, net gaming revenue (NGR) grew 42% compared to this time last year, compared to a 13% fall in the first quarter, helped by acquisitions of Enlabs and Bet.pt at the start of the second quarter.
For the first half of the year, NGR grew 11%, with retail NGR galloping 359% higher in the second quarter compared to a 99% decline in the first, while online NGR climbed 22% in the second quarter versus 33% in the first.
Online NGR over the first half increased 28% as lockdowns sent punters onto the group’s various apps and websites. Online sporting revenues were up 55% and online gaming NGR was up 10%.
The US joint venture, BetMGM continued to grow market share, now at 24% across states where it is active and generated a first-half NGR of approximately US$350mln.
For the full year, underlying profits (EBITDA) are now expected to be in the range of GBP850-900mln, ahead of the current City analyst consensus.
Chief executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen, who was moved to the role from non-executive director in January, said: “We remain confident and excited by the breadth and scale of the long-term sustainable growth opportunities ahead of us”.
In a separate announcement, she said the group is doubling the headcount in its in-house games studios in the UK, Italy and India within a year.
“By widening our offer with new and exclusive games, such as free-to-play tournaments, we give existing and new customers more reasons to use our products,” said Nygaard-Andersen. “This not only helps to grow our business but brings fresh insight, so we can further improve the offer for our customers.”