888 sets December sales record despite poker trading woes

Gambling firm 888 has cheered an all-time record high for monthly revenues in December, but said poker remains a “challenging market”.

The group said it is “confident” over its full-year out-turn thanks to a better second-half performance, which was bolstered by its Orbit casino platform and a solid result for sport betting.

It also hailed a sustained recovery in its UK business, despite the impact of Brexit and an increase in the online gaming duty from 15% to 21% in April last year.

But the firm – which is registered in Gibraltar – said poker trading continues to suffer, with the firm looking to lead a turnaround with the initial launch of its new poker platform, Poker 8, over the final six months of 2019.

It is adding new features and rolling out Poker 8 further across its markets over 2020.

Chief executive Itai Pazner said: “The group has delivered solid progress in the second half of the financial year, underpinned by continued momentum in casino and sport.

“We are very encouraged by the growth in new customers during 2019, with a record of more than one million new customers signing up to 888’s brands during the year.”

On the British market, he added: “We have delivered a strong recovery in our UK business, underpinned by a clear and unwavering focus on entertaining recreational customers in a safe and secure environment.”

The group’s shares were hit last autumn when it revealed a 63% slump in pre-tax profits for the six months to June 30 after a 19% jump in gaming duties.

However, UK like-for-like revenues in the first half soared 23% despite a tougher regulatory environment.

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