The board of Webis Holdings plc, the global on-line gaming group, is pleased to provide the following trading update in relation to the Group’s performance for the current financial year.
European Wagering Services ("EWS")
EWS, our pari-mutuel operation, continues to generate growth despite a backdrop of generally negative industry trends. The current economic climate within the United States has impacted on racetrack attendance and consequently the size of betting pools has reduced. Nevertheless, the traffic through the link2bet.com website is experiencing consistent month-on-month growth, which has fully offset a reduction in business through the call centre. It remains the board’s intention, as part of its long-term strategy for EWS, to continue to increase marketing spend on the site to attract higher margin leisure players, in particular by using promotions in US-focused horse and greyhound related media.
The board has also committed to increased marketing activity within Europe during the Breeders’ Cup, which takes place at Santa Anita racetrack in California on 6 and 7 November 2009, where a strong contingent of European horses will be taking on the best from the United States. EWS has obtained fully authorised access rights to the official racetrack pools for this prestigious event.
Turnover through the betinternet fixed-odds sportsbook has remained consistent at last year’s final quarter level, although the business was not immune to the widely reported adverse results at the start of the current football season, which have had a negative effect throughout the sports betting industry. This initially affected the gross margin for the sportsbook, although from mid-September onwards, results have been more favourable.
At the start of the period, the business also experienced a downturn in ‘high-roller’ play within its casinos and as a result betinternet’s overall margin for the first half thus far, including casinos and games, has been lower than expected. However, in line with the Company’s strategy, betinternet has continued to both increase the variety of markets on offer and enhance the sportsbook’s internal systems, with a view to generating a sustained increase in the margin during the second half.
In summary, because of the factors affecting betinternet at the start of the current financial year, the Group’s overall performance for the first five months is below the board’s expectations. Trading conditions over the last few weeks have, however, improved and the board continues to be optimistic as to the Group’s prospects for the rest of the current financial year. The board’s confidence in its strategies for both businesses also remains undiminished.
The board expects to release its Interim Report for the period ending 29 November 2009 during February 2010.