et gaming revenue climbed to us$ 67 million from us$ 50 million a year earlier, the Gibraltar-based company said today in a statement. The average amount won daily from gamblers rose 2 percent from the second quarter in the third quarter’s first 22 days, it shows.
The introduction of the 888ladies online bingo site and backgammon helped restore revenue after the company lost half its sales when the U.S. barred foreign gaming Web sites in 2006. 888 also added sports betting to keep customers during events such as June’s Euro 2008 soccer tournament. CEO Gigi Levy said in June he was “confident” of further growth in 2008.
“The numbers were pretty good,” James Hollins, an analyst at Daniel Stewart & Co. in London with a “hold” rating on the stock, said in a telephone interview. He predicted little change in 888’s share price today, saying the figures had ``enough positives to justify’’ the stock’s 20 percent gain over the prior three weeks.
Net revenue from casino games, the main contributor, climbed 27 percent to us$ 35 million, while poker sales were unchanged at us$ 20 million. Revenue from so-called emerging games, mostly bingo and sports betting, rose sixfold to us$ 12 million.
888 fell 2.5 pence, or 1.6 percent, to 151.25 pence at 9:40 a.m. in London trading. The stock has gained 6.5 percent this year, beating the 21 percent drop by PartyGaming Plc, whose PartyPoker web site competes with 888’s Pacific Poker brand. Second-quarter operating income increased 36 percent to us$ 69 million, the statement shows. The company had 5.2 million accounts as of the end of June, up from 4.9 million three months earlier.
888, which owns the Casino-on-Net Web site, is moving into the supply of poker technology to fuel growth. The company entered a partnership to provide Sportech with software, customer support and payment processing in June. Levy said in a phone interview he’s aiming for “probably tens’’ of business-to-business agreements in coming years as traditional gaming groups take advantage of the Internet.
Poker revenue gained 2 percent in the half, slowing from 5 percent in the first quarter. The month-long Euro 2008 drew some customers away because there’s some "overlap" between online poker players and soccer watchers, Levy said.
Annual profit fell 54 percent last year to us$ 34.2 million after a crackdown on Web gaming forced the company out of the U.S. Revenue from casino games, the main contributor, increased by a third to us$ 118 million last year outside the U.S.
Rival Sportingbet Plc reported a third-quarter profit of us$ 67.1 million in June on rising European and Australian bets.