Two years ago Betfair was a company that in many ways was fighting for its life. After years of success the company had hit a rough patch, one that saw a £1 billion takeover on the horizon. Fast forward to 2015 and the company is now investing £100 million into pushing the company to new heights through new acquisitions and new market investment.
The company, which has made a considerable splash on the FTSE 250 since its arrival, posted strong results during Q1 2015. Pre-tax profits climbed by 66% to a little over £101 million, while revenues grew to £476.5 million. The strong showing has peaked plenty of investor’s interest, largely as the company has zero debt and is becoming more and more favourable with regards to dividends. Just recently they returned £200 million to shareholders, but were still left with a lofty £105.1 million in the bank, a £105 million that is being put aside to further the business and “follow-up new strategic routes within a vastly evolving marketplace”. Speaking on the growth of Betfair and how he feels that the business is breaking new ground in 2015, company Chief Executive Breon Corcoran said “[Betfair] wants to have the flexibility to invest as and when we deem necessary or when a smart business opportunity presents itself. For example, just this year we opted to purchase HRTV, the popular horse-racing TV network”. He also said, “We feel that the Betfair growth story is one that is both organic and compelling, and as we’ve said prior to recent successes, if there is a new acquisition available that helps bridge a market gap or accelerate company performance, we like to know that we have the funds to pursue it”.
While Betfair have clearly moved forward leaps and bounds over the past two years, back in 2013 they were facing a much harsher reality, one that could have seen a change in ownership occur. At the time Richard Koch and his private equity group CVC had designs on Betfair and made the company a 950p a share offer in an attempted takeover. The offer would have been undeniably temping at the time, but the move to spurn it has ultimately proved to be a successful one. Just last month, under the guidance of Mr Corcoran, Betfair’s share price reached lofty new heights of £26.98, with many even believing that it could break the £30 barrier. Speaking on the rise of Betfair, a leading Peel Hunt analyst said, “Those who love sports betting love Betfair and it shows, the company could easily raise additional funds should it want to push forward for more acquisitions or increased product development”. He followed up by saying “Investors win, players win, proving that they were right to turn down the offer from CVC” and “Betfair is in very good place right now”.
The company divides its time between UK, US, and Australian markets, doing its best to tread carefully around the legal status of gambling within any particular nation. What’s exciting for players is that new markets and developments are on the way, Mr Corcoran said “The Romanian market, Portuguese market, and Spanish market are all being discussed for launch within the next twelve to eighteen months”. He also spoke on the importance of their mobile market “Mobile use related in 93% of our growth during 2014, so we realise that our customers love the act of betting on the go”.
Positive news seems to be arriving at every angle for Betfair in 2015. So, for customers it could be a case of “watch this space” when it comes to this fast rising online sportsbook provider.
Safe to say that things move at a fairly quick pace in the world of online gambling, with the latest news seemingly going from rumour to concrete fact in no time at all. PokerStars, one of the world’s leading poker sights, is set to open up a sports betting arm to UK based players.
Having established a reputation for quality in the world of online poker and online casino gaming, it is no surprise to see PokerStars attempt to crack the world of sports betting. The brand new sports betting platform, which utilises the popular PokerStars 7 in-house client, is opening with a wide market selection that includes tennis, football, rugby union, basketball, volleyball, ice hockey, and even handball. While they promise that new markets are on the horizon. The platform will be available across all PokerStars account types including desktop, mobile device, iOS, and Android app. Speaking on the new sportsbook launch from PokerStars PokerNews UK’s Matthew Pitt said “PokerStars is entering a tough market and one that can be particularly unforgiving” and “from what I’ve seen the odds they offer do standup to that of the major online bookmakers”. Looking at that in more detail, when the UEFA Champions League Final aired back in May 2015, PokerStars had Barcelona to win at 1.60, which is the exact same odds offered by both UniBet and Tonybet Sports, two dedicated sports betting websites. This shows that PokerStars are putting a foundation in place that can help them rival the major names.
The brand new platform was launched in beta form back in late March, which is why PokerStars celebrated in a big way when the first bet was placed. The beta phase was addressed in parent company Amaya’s operational highlights in April, the same time in which the company promoted their new record financials. Given current projections the full-rollout for PokerStars sports betting arm will occur in late 2015. Speaking on the new development in the document, Amaya stated. “We feel that the beta release of PokerStars sports betting offering was a major success, which is why we feel that it is ready for release on both our PS7 client and the web platform later this year”. Furthering that, “We also have plans in place to bring the sports betting arm of the business to mobile platforms during 2015”. Company CEO David Baazov believes that with the launch of the sportsbook operation it will allow the company to take its customer base to new heights, “We have already worked to launched new online casino games in the past twelve months, now we couldn’t be more excited about welcoming in sports betting players to the PokerStars fold”.
The arrival of PokerStars sports betting arm isn’t the only big news for the UK based online gambling company. On June 8th PokerStars parent company made their long-awaited arrival on the NASDAQ. Baazov has spoke on the move by saying. “Our NASDAQ listing represents a major step forward for Amaya and all related brands. It is progress and it is progress that we are happy to shout about”. Amaya’s arrival on the NASDAQ has come at a time in which they are looking to expand the company through the purchase of struggling online gambling firm Bwin.Party.
PokerStars has become a leading name in the world of online casino gambling and now they are taking the brave step of moving into the world of online sports betting. What the move represents is progress and when you partner it up with their NASDAQ arrival, it is clear that there are exciting times ahead for PokerStars players.