July 17, 2019 / 6:30 AM / 4 months ago

Ladbrokes owner GVC rides out UK retail slump

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past a branch of Ladbrokes in London, Britain December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

(Reuters) - Ladbrokes owner GVC Holdings Plc (GVC.L) eked out 3% growth in overall revenue in the second quarter, online growth offsetting the collapse in UK high street revenue that drove rival William Hill (WMH.L) to announce mass closures earlier this month.

GVC, which in March warned legislation ordering a cut in the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals could lead to up to 1,000 shop closures, reported an almost 40% fall in like-for-like revenue from its machines.

But it also said a 19% overall fall in like-for-like retail revenue was better than it had feared, with some punters turning to its sports betting terminals instead.

Overall gaming revenue for the company, which owns brands including bwin, Coral, Crystalbet and Eurobet, rose 3% in the second quarter ended June 30, driven by continuing strong - 16% - growth of online betting.

William Hill (WMH.L) said at the start of July that it plans to cut about a third of its betting shops and jobs in Britain after the government slashed the maximum stake permitted on fixed-odds terminals, dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling by their critics.

Like other betting majors, GVC has also been leaning increasingly towards a rapidly growing U.S. market which has exploded ever since regulations around sports betting were loosened.

GVC, which offers sports betting, casino, poker and bingo and has licences in more than 20 countries, said it expects Roar Digital, its U.S. joint venture with MGM Resorts, to be up and running online ahead of the start of NFL season in September.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham

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