Betfair looks to World Cup to keep winning

Oliver Smith
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BETFAIR is hoping the World Cup will continue the bookmaker’s winning streak after its annual profit beat forecasts yesterday, sending its shares up almost one per cent to 1,032p.

The online gambling company reported that group revenues rose two per cent to £393.6m and underlying profits jumped 61 per cent to £61.1m during the year to 30 April.

“Our strong trading has continued into the new financial year and we look forward to building on this positive momentum during the World Cup… which will be an excellent showcase for our market leading products,” said chief executive Breon Corcoran.

“Our strategy is working. The emphasis on sustainable revenues and our product and marketing investments are paying off, resulting in record revenues and profits. We believe the differentiation of our products and uniqueness of our model give us a real competitive advantage,” added Corcoran.

The going will get tougher for gambling companies from December, when the government closes a loophole that had allowed them to reduce their tax bill by basing their operations offshore in places such as Gibraltar.

Betfair estimated that tax changes in Britain, Ireland and Italy would have cost it around £36m last year.

Betting companies are looking to the World Cup in Brazil, which kicks off today, to lift trading and help them to win new customers ahead of the tax changes.

“The flexibility we retain through our strong balance sheet provides a competitive advantage during uncertain times for the gaming sector. We will continue to review our balance sheet on a regular basis,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran was chief operating officer at Paddy Power before joining Betfair in 2012. He yesterday played down speculation that he could succeed Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy, who is stepping down next year.

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