Canadian gaming and online gambling firm; The Stars Group, has today provided a business update for the first quarter of 2020, including outlining its commitment to the Flutter Entertainment combination.
Business highlights include details of the firm’s revenue, including increases by as much as 27%, details of the Covid-19 impact, the company’s safer gambling commitment and an update on the combination with Flutter Entertainment.
The Stars Group saw strong momentum across its segments since the start of 2020, and now expects record revenues for the first quarter of 2020 of approximately $735 million, an increase of approximately 27% as compared to $580 million in the first quarter of 2019.
This performance was supported by continued strong underlying momentum in customer activity in the United Kingdom and Australia segments.
The Stars Group saw increased customer activity across its online poker and casino product offerings largely beginning in March, with year-over-year International revenue growth of approximately 44% for the month, which more than mitigated the disruption from the cancellation or postponement of sporting events during that time.
The Stars Group has continued to see increased activity in online poker and casino into the second quarter of 2020, with consolidated average daily revenues in the first two weeks of the quarter approximately 33% higher as compared to the first quarter of 2020.
On the same basis, International revenues were approximately 75% higher, benefiting from increased activity in online poker and casino, and United Kingdom revenues were approximately 30% lower, with growth in gaming partly mitigating a reduction of approximately 65% in Stakes.
In the Australian segment, as racing has continued with minimal disruption, the growth in racing revenues fully mitigated the loss of sports revenues in this short period.
The Stars Group currently estimates that each month that horse and dog racing and major sporting events are cancelled would reduce operating income by approximately £10 to £15 million in the United Kingdom segment and by up to A$10 million in the Australian segment, with no material negative impact on the International segment.
Flutter Entertainment Combination
Last week, two independent proxy advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co., each recommended that shareholders vote FOR the proposed all-share combination with Flutter at the upcoming special meeting of The Stars Group shareholders, which will now be held virtually on April 24th 2020
The Stars Group currently expects closing of the combination to occur during the second quarter of 2020 subject to, among other things, shareholder and remaining regulatory approvals.
A key area of focus for The Stars Group, particularly during this unprecedented time, has been to enable customers to enjoy its games in a safe and fair manner.
To this end, The Stars Group has further increased its investment and focus into its safer and responsible gambling measures by, among other initiatives, encouraging customers to take advantage of its various safer gambling tools, such as setting deposit limits, using cool-off periods and using “reality checks” where available.
In addition to encourage customers to monitor and control their own activity, The Stars Group strives to intervene where customer data suggests a heightened risk of harm, setting mandatory deposit limits or otherwise restricting gameplay.
The Stars Group is also supporting its range of free-to-play games for customers to enjoy during these challenging times.
Chief executive officer of The Stars Group Rafi Ashkenazi commented:
“We saw record revenues in the first quarter with 27% year-over-year growth and are continuing to see strong momentum into April, with strong growth in poker and gaming revenues helping to mitigate the cancellation of sporting events.
With these encouraging trends, a well-diversified and cash-generative business, and our strong balance sheet, we believe that we remain well-positioned to navigate further headwinds related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and remain fully committed to our combination with Flutter, which we now expect to close in the second quarter and are confident will enhance and accelerate our growth strategy.
During these exceptional times, our top priority, however, is the health and safety of our employees and customers, which includes enhancing our responsible and safer gambling measures as well as ensuring that we provide our customers with all the help and support they may need.”