2014-10-31

SCIENTIFIC GAMES POSTS A Q3-2014 NET LOSS



Struggling with a falling share price due to bank delays on the $5,1 billion in funds necessary for its acquisition of Bally Technologies (see previous InfoPowa report), Scientific Games further disappointed shareholders in reporting a net loss in Q3-2014 this week.

Although revenues increased higher than forecasted, the company reported a wider net loss as acquisition and other related costs rose.

Interactive gaming performance improved, with a hefty contribution from social gaming.

Third quarter revenue increased to $415.6 million from $234.4 million in the prior-year quarter, primarily reflecting the contribution of WMS operations and a 9 percent increase in total lottery revenue. That topped forcasts for $413 million.

EBITDA increased $38.3 million from the prior-year quarter to $128.2 million.

The company incurred a net loss of $69.8 million, or $0.82 per share, which included a $0.23 per share, non-cash impairment charge to write down the company's equity investment in its Northstar Illinois joint venture; $0.07 per share, of transaction- and financing-related costs associated with the pending acquisition of Bally Technologies $0.02 per share, of employee termination and restructuring expense.

In the prior-year period, the company reported a net loss from continuing operations of $0.4 million, or $0.01 per share, inclusive of $2.5 million, or $0.03 per share, of WMS-related transaction costs.

"During the quarter, the company generated $126 million of cash flow from operations, which after $62 million of capital expenditures resulted in $65 million of free cash flow," said Gavin Isaacs, president and CEO.

Scientific Games also posted its results for the nine months year-to-date, revealing that revenue increased $531.6 million from the prior-year period to $1,220.6 million, primarily reflecting the contribution from WMS' operations.

EBITDA over the nine months ended September 30 increased to $383.1 million from $252.0 million.

The net loss increased to $187.2 million from $26.7 million, primarily reflecting an operating loss of $16.3 million, which includes $13.0 million of transaction-related costs and legal contingencies, and $12.4 million of employee termination and restructuring expense, compared to operating income of $49.2 million in the prior-year period.

In addition, the net loss for the first nine months of 2014 was also impacted by a $25.9 million loss on early extinguishment of debt, the $19.7 million non-cash impairment charge referenced above and $8.0 million related to the company's share of an estimated net shortfall accrual recorded by its Northstar Illinois joint venture, and $67.6 million of higher interest expense, partially offset by a $14.5 million gain on the sale of the equity investment in Sportech plc. In the prior-year nine month period, the company had $9.5 million of transaction- and financing-related expenses and $0.3 million of employee termination and restructuring expense.

"In addition to the progress being made with the WMS integration, we are focused on the potential to meaningfully increase free cash flow following the Bally acquisition, which we continue to anticipate closing this quarter, and deploying our free cash flow to reduce net debt," Isaacs said.

"Our plans are now expected to yield greater expected financial savings than originally anticipated. As a result, we are increasing our estimate of annual cost synergies anticipated to be realized from the pending Bally transaction by the end of 2016 from $220 million to $235 million.

"In addition, we now expect to realize an additional $15 million in annual cost synergies from the WMS acquisition, bringing the total to $115 million in annual cost savings by the end of 2015, of which slightly more than half has been achieved to date.

"We remain confident the combination of Scientific Games and Bally will deliver significant strategic and financial benefits."

Interactive activities.

In the Q3-2014 report, Scientific Games reported that its interactive activities generated $38.5 million - mainly from WMS and $5.7 million of it from social gaming products.

The growth in interactive gaming revenue from social gaming activities also reflected a 78 percent growth in the average Daily Average User to approximately 1.6 million compared to the approximately 900,000 average DAU in the prior-year period for WMS, partially offset by a 26 percent decline in Average Revenue Per Daily Active User to $0.23 reflecting the impact of a significantly larger player audience and growth in players on mobile platforms

During the quarter the company inked a deal to provide its interactive Play4Fun Network to Bay Mills Resort and Casino; the company additionally entered into six new game content agreements with online operators.




2014-10-21

STRONG Q3-2014 PERFORMANCE FROM WILLIAM HILL P.L.C.



Online and land gambling group William Hill plc has turned in another sparkling performance - particularly from its online enterprises - in an interim management report covering the period from 2 July 2014 to 20 October 2014.
The report shows that the third quarter saw strong year-on-year margin swing driving outstanding profit growth, with key performance indicators highlighting:
* Group net revenue up 23 percent and operating profit up 89 percent;
* Online operating profit up 126 percent, with wagering up 18 percent and mobile wagering up 38 percent;
* Online Gaming net revenue up 23 percent, with 116 percent growth in mobile gaming; and now contributes 31 percent of Online gaming net revenue;
* Online gaming net revenue (comprising 87 percent Casino, 8 percent Bingo, 5 percent Poker) continued to grow strongly, benefiting from investment in mobile gaming together with a wider differentiated product range.
* Retail operating profit up 31 percent, driven by strong gross win margin and ongoing machine strength;
* Eclipse gaming machine roll-out into second half of Retail estate now underway;
* Continued improvement in the Australian subsidiaries, with improved margin and operating efficiencies increasing operating profit substantially;
* Good US wagering growth up 21 pecent, with mobile growth up 88 percent;
* Involvement as a founder member in the responsible gaming adocacy organisation Senet Group;
CEO James Henderson said Tuesday:
The Group performed strongly in Q3 driven by both favourable sporting results and the continued development of our UK and international businesses. The period saw good gaming growth in both major channels and sports net revenue growth significantly boosted by a favourable year-on-year swing in win margin.
"Positive sporting results in the quarter, including a strong end to the World Cup, have moved us close to or ahead of normalised gross win margins on a year-to-date basis.
Online gaming continues to benefit from our investment in mobile and Sportsbook turnover growth remains healthy, with in-play turnover growth a particular feature, up 35 percent in Q3.
"In Retail, net revenue growth of 9 percent reflects a favourable sports margin, the benefit of the World Cup and a strengthening of machine gross win growth rates, despite the impact of 82 shop closures during the quarter.
Our international businesses are performing well. The progress made to date in William Hill Australia is delivering strong profit growth. Our work to optimise the customer base, following the onset of increased race field fees, has improved the gross win margin, with slightly reduced amounts wagered, as expected.
In Italy, we became number one in online sports betting in July with a 14 percent market share and in Spain we have further increased our online sports betting market share to 20 percent. William Hill US has continued to show growth in both wagering and profits.
"We continue to monitor closely potential developments in land-based sports betting in New Jersey.
Management expects operating profit for 2014 to be towards the top end of current consensus range assuming normalised results in the final quarter.




2014-10-21

GIBRALTAR OPERATORS REQUEST REVIEW OF P.O.C. FINDING IN THE U.K.



The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association has asked for a judicial review following the recent High Court defeat of its challenge to the new British point-of-consumption online gambling law (see previous InfoPowa reports).
The GBGA said it had applied for a judicial review of the Treasury's tax plans after reviewing the judgment and Mr Justice Green's reasoning, which it said had encouraged it to launch a legal challenge against the tax implications of the UK government's remote gambling initiative.
The new tax rules were kept separate from the remote gambling regulation changes. However, gambling operators that do not adhere to the new tax regime risk having their remote gambling licence revoked by the Gambling Commission, the Association claims.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Green said that previous case law had established that founding principles of EU law do not allow for "measures restricting the freedom to provide services between member states [to] be justified on purely economic grounds". The judge said that "the precise boundaries of what is and what is not an economic justification are not writ in stone" but that "a restriction designed to raise tax would be an economic objective and, as such, inadmissible as a justification".
Justice Green concluded that the government's regulatory reforms, whilst not faultless, were nevertheless proportionate to the aims being pursued and therefore rejected the GBGA's original legal challenge.
The GBGA says its new legal challenge will again be based in part on the potential to encourage the black market.




2014-10-21

LOCK POKER PLAYERS STILL UNPAID MORE THAN A YEAR ON



That perennial source of useful player information, the twoplustwo forum, has again seen aggrieved players focusing the spotlight on troubled online poker operator Lock Poker.
Players at the site have been awaiting pay-outs for over a year in many cases, prompting some to sell their account balances at discounted rates just to get something out amid fears of a sudden crash.
Piling on the pressure for the operator to fly right and meet its obligations, player IHasTehNutz has continued to label the operator as a "deposit only 'Ponzi scheme' site" that owes its players around $3.2 million in still unpaid cash-outs and account balances.
IHasTehNutz has been monitoring aggrieved players and the operator for well over a year and has assembled numbers to back up his assertions, and in his latest twoplustwo report he documents 394 players owed over $941,000 in pending payouts...most of whom have been waiting well over a calendar year to receive their money.
Exacerbating the situation, 205 of those players have remaining balances beyond their unpaid withdrawals totaling over $2.2 million collectively, with over $1.7 million owed to players resident outside of the United States.
That may not be a complete picture, either; IHasTehNutz can only include proved statistics submitted to him by players, and there may be more of the unpaid out there.
According to IHasTehNutz:
* The last payout reported as received by a player occurred in April 2014.
* 340 of the 394 players on the report have waited 365 days or more for their payouts from Lock Poker.
* 193 players have waited at least 500 days; 18 have waited 600+ days (longest wait is 694 days).
* The last non-US player to receive a payout from Lock Poker occurred in November 2013.
* Only 12 payouts from Lock Poker have been reported received in all of 2014. IHasTehNutz recorded 232 Lock Poker payouts from posters on twoplustwo and other forums from May 2013 to December 2013.
Lock's uncommunicative stance serves to create more speculation on the financial situation of the operator; for example late last year the poker information site Pokerfuse reported that Lock allegedly owed a significant amount of money to the Revolution network which it had exited in October 2013.
Earlier this year the Poker Players Alliance tried to assist players by requesting Lock to provide assurances regarding its ability to meet its player commitments. According to IHasTehNutz, there was no public response.




2014-10-21

PUTTING THE FANTASY SPORTS PHENOMENON INTO PERSPECTIVE



The recent upsurge in fantasy sports news coverage - mainly focused on the burgeoning daily fantasy sports phenomenon - has prompted the information site Online Poker Report to carry out some research....with interesting results.
Like most of us, OPR expected the research to show that daily fantasy sports is outpacing online gambling revenues, particularly when compared with so far disappointing results from jurisdictions like New Jersey.
The information site points out that the daily fantasy sports sector is accepted by the major sports leagues; is heavily marketed; has good payment structures that include PayPal; is a subset of traditional fantasy sports betting; and is legal in over 40 US states, giving it a major advantage over intrastate online gambling in New Jersey.
However, the statistics indicate the contrary, with New Jersey online gambling daily stats well ahead of those from fantasy sports daily action...almost double, in fact.
That's remarkable, considering that the daily fantasy sports stats are for that entire industry.
To arrive at its conclusions, OPR took into account actual revenue reported by NJ online casinos and poker sites through September this year, balanced by publicly available revenue information from FanDuel through September and projections from Eilers Research and OPR.
Whilst accepting that it may be comparing apples with oranges and is open to correction, the OPR assessment nevertheless makes for interesting reading, suggesting that daily revenues from New Jersey online poker and casino combined are around $130,000, compared with daily fantasy sports revenues a little short of $80,000.
The OPR piece examines projected growth curves, again using Eilers Research projections.
Read the full article here: http://www.onlinepokerreport.com/14129/dfs-revenues-vs-nj-online-casino-revenues/