International edition
September 30, 2020

Many of the sports were not big betting markets

Betfair says Olympics put brakes on revenue growth

(UK).- Olympics mania sapped interest in betting on sports such as soccer and horse racing in recent weeks, online gambling exchange Betfair said last week, eating into revenues at the company which offers an alternative to traditional bookmakers.

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etfair, set up 12 years ago, said like-for-like revenue adjusted for the impact of regulation was only marginally higher since the start of August against the same period a year before.

That compares with core revenue growth of 13 percent to us$ 146.7 million in the three months through July, helped by the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, though the company said its performance was broadly in line with expectations for the year to date, thanks to its strong first quarter.

Before the Olympics, bookmakers had been cautious about the impact of the Games, noting that many of the sports were not big betting markets. That seems to have been the Betfair experience, though punters staked more cash than before on the event.

"We had our best-ever Olympics with over twice as many customers betting on the Games as they did in Beijing," CFO Stephen Morana told reporters on a conference call, referring to the previous Games four years ago, though he conceded activity overall had been hit. "People haven't been betting or watching as much the regular events that are on," he added. "The 2.40 at Redcar isn't quite as exciting as the women's volleyball for instance, so you see a natural cannibalisation from such as amazing sporting events as the Olympics."

In contrast, Betfair said it had seen a record sum of over us$ 97.2 million of bets on Andy Murray's U.S. Open final win over Novak Djokovic, which ended in the early hours of Tuesday, London time. Betfair also said Morana would leave his position as chief financial officer once a successor had been found, having served as interim chief executive for several months and having been with the business for a decade.

Breon Corcoran, previously COO at Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, took over as CEO last month. He will have to deal with regulatory issues in a number of continental European markets and ensure revenue growth picks up again. He said he would give more details on his plans at the company's interim results in December.

Betfair has lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission over new Cypriot gambling legislation, which it says could lead to betting exchanges being prevented from operating in their current format in Cyprus.

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