Online gaming firm 888 drops dividend as World Cup bites

 
City A.M. Reporter
Online gaming firm 888 yesterday scrapped its dividend, preserving cash to pay for acquisitions after the weak economy and soccer World Cup sapped appetite for poker games and hit first half profit.

“In order to continue investing for future growth, and to support potential acquisitions, the board has decided not to declare an interim dividend,” chief executive Gigi Levy said, adding that he saw “significant opportunities” for M&A activity.

The company said in a statement that first half adjusted pre-tax profit fell 44 per cent to $8.4m (£5.4m) from $14.9m a year earlier, saying the World Cup in June had exacerbated a broader, industry-wide decline in online poker playing.

It also pointed to adverse currency movements and said the benefits of a cost cutting programme would only be felt during the second half of the year.

“Trading in August has been significantly stronger than in July, with a double digit daily revenue increase especially in casino and poker,” 888 said in a statement.

“Poker has seen an increase of more than 15 per cent in revenue in August.”