‘Resilient’ Flutter revenues jump despite cancelled sports

The owner of Paddy Power and Betfair revealed it has been surprisingly resilient even as coronavirus took a major chunk out of turnover.

Flutter Entertainment said revenues jumped by 16% in the first three months of the year, despite a 46% hit to its sports segment since racing was suspended in the UK and Ireland.

However, things were expected to be worse, chief executive Peter Jackson said.

“Following the widespread cancellation of sporting events, group revenues have been more resilient than we initially expected, helped by the continuation of horse racing in Australia and the US gaming continues to perform well across the group,” Mr Jackson said.

Up until March 15, revenue in the sports segment of the business grew by 30%, but that dropped to a 13% increase when including the final two weeks of the quarter.

Overall revenue grew by 16% to £547 million in the first quarter, after being on track to deliver a 29% increase until Covid-19 hit.

Mr Jackson said: “The group performed very well in the period prior to the disruption to sporting events in mid-March. We delivered strong customer growth across each of our brands and benefited from favourable sports results across our sports books.”

He said the company’s £10 billion merger with Sky Bet owner Stars Group still “remains compelling”.

The deal, which was approved by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority late last month, will create the world’s largest online betting company. It was also approved by regulators in Ireland on Thursday.

It is due to be completed in the second quarter of the year.

Mr Jackson added: “While the current disruption is truly exceptional, it underlines the importance of product and geographic diversification.”

Flutter said it would try to keep paying its staff without government help unless the crisis drags on for so long that not taking government money would endanger jobs.