888 acquires licence in Malta to mitigate against Brexit

888 Holdings said it has gained a new gambling licence in Malta to hedge against Brexit as it posted higher profits, but revenue fell after its UK business was hit by tighter regulation and higher taxes.

The online gaming group has also established a server in Ireland in order to continue to cater for European customers and mitigate against any disruption caused by Britain’s impending departure from the European Union.

Meanwhile, pre-tax profit increased to 108.7 million US dollars (£83.2 million) in 2018 compared with 18.8 million dollars (£14.4 million) the previous year.

But revenue declined to 540.6 million dollars (£414 million) from 541.8 million dollars (£414.9 million).

Revenue in the company’s core UK market fell 16% to 170.6 million dollars (£130.6 million) as it enforced measures to comply with stricter regulations in the country.

888 said it has “implemented sweeping changes” in response to the Government’s efforts to tackle under-age and problem gamblers, such as the self-imposed advertising watershed, which was agreed with other bookmakers.

Chief executive Itai Pazner said that, despite headwinds in some areas of the business, the company’s performance in 2018 was “resilient”.

“The group achieved continued growth across several regulated markets, primarily in continental Europe, underpinned by good momentum in casino and sport.

“The positive momentum at the end of 2018 has continued into the first quarter of 2019 with average daily revenue in 2019 to date up 10% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, reflecting improvements across major KPIs (key performance indicators).

“In the UK, we are encouraged by the improving trends we began to witness in the latter stages of 2018 and the board is pleased to report that these have continued during the first quarter of the current financial year.”

He said trading during the new financial year to date is 5% higher at a constant currency basis than last year.

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