UK bingo op­er­a­tor ready to gam­ble on State­side jack­pot

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Oliver Gill

JACKPOTJOY, the bingo com­pany made fa­mous by TV ad­verts star­ring Paddy Mcguin­ness and Bar­bara Wind­sor, is “keep­ing a close eye” on re­cently dereg­u­lated US gam­bling mar­kets.

Larger UK book­ies such as Lad­brokes owner GVC, Wil­liam Hill and Paddy Power Bet­fair have struck deals to grab a slice of the newly le­galised sports bet­ting mar­ket in the US. Supreme Court judges in May backed a New Jer­sey state rul­ing to over­turn a decades-long ban on wa­gers on sports. The le­gal­i­sa­tion is ex­pected to be steadily rolled out across the coun­try.

Le­gal­is­ing gam­bling on bingo, Jackpotjoy ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Neil Goulden told The Sun­day Tele­graph, was the “log­i­cal” next step.

“We are keep­ing a close eye [on the US],” he said. “The dereg­u­la­tion at the mo­ment in the US is only sports bet­ting at this stage. It doesn’t in­clude bingo.

“We’re watch­ing, we’re talk­ing to part­ners, in the view that if and when bingo fol­lows suit and be­comes dereg­u­lated, we hope to be in a po­si­tion where we are a very at­trac­tive part­ner for some­one who is al­ready there with sports bet­ting.”

The Lon­don-listed com­pany an­nounces its half-year re­sults on Tues­day with an­a­lysts ex­pect­ing the firm to con­tinue its trend of dou­ble-digit rev­enue growth. Af­ter gain­ing its pre­mium list­ing ear­lier this year, Mr Goulden says he is “hope­ful” the re­sults will be suf­fi­cient to propel the com­pany into the FTSE 350 when in­dices are re­cut in early Septem­ber.

“We want to di­ver­sify a bit more,” he said. “We are try­ing to open up two or three mar­kets in the next 12 months.” Th­ese did not in­clude the US, how­ever.

Jackpotjoy’s pur­suit of rev­enue growth is likely to be toned down in the sec­ond half of the year. Mr Goulden ex­plained mar­ket­ing spend would be cur­tailed in favour of bet­ter profit mar­gin gen­er­a­tion.

Canac­cord Ge­nu­ity pen­cilled in six­month rev­enue of £162.7m, up 11pc, with full-year profit be­fore tax ex­pected to be £91.9m on sales of £333m.

Jackpotjoy said it is to re­duce mar­ket­ing spend, which in­cludes its tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing fea­tur­ing Bar­bara Wind­sor, above, in or­der to im­prove profit mar­gins

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