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La Française des Jeux (FDJ) announces its results for the first half of 2020

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La Française des Jeux (FDJ) announces its results for the first half of 2020
Reading Time: 14 minutes

 

The good momentum in stakes seen in the early part of the year (increase of 5% until mid-March) was halted by the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic (decline of nearly 60% over the two months of lockdown). The gradual recovery since the lifting of lockdown in mid-May has accelerated with the gradual resumption of sporting competitions, including most of the national football championships in Europe, and the return of Amigo on 8 June. As such, the decline in stakes was limited to 18% over the half-year compared with the first half of 2019. They totalled €6.9 billion, breaking down as:

  • Lottery stakes down 13% at €5.8 billion:
    • Of which -15% for draw games to €2.2 billion and -11% for instant games to €3.6 billion;
    • A 50% increase in online stakes to €0.5 billion.
  • Sports betting stakes down 39% at €1.1 billion.
  • Half-year revenue totalled €849 million, down 15% on an adjusted basis,1 and EBITDA amounted to €174 million, a margin of 20.5%.
  • For EBITDA, the mechanical impact of the decline in activity was partially offset by the implementation of a large part of the savings plan of more than €80 million for 2020.
  • From mid-June the Group has returned to an overall level of activity comparable with that of 2019. However, in view of the many uncertainties that remain, the Group does not communicate any business or earnings forecasts for the financial year 2020 as a whole. However, it should be borne in mind that the EBITDA margin for the second half of 2019 benefited from exceptional long lottery cycles, as well as unexpected sporting results, which reduced the player payout ratio in the sports betting segment.

Stéphane Pallez, Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of FDJ, said: “The Group’s strong mobilisation from the onset of the health crisis and a swiftly implemented cost-cutting plan have limited the impact on the first-half results. For several weeks, we have been recording stakes at a level comparable with that of 2019. Our strategic orientations and the strength of the FDJ model have been confirmed, and we continue to invest to support the development of all our activities.”

The 2019 data used for the following analyses have been adjusted to reflect the new tax regime that came into force on 1st January 2020 and to consolidate Sporting Group over a full year (but without adjustment for long lottery cycles)

Key figures (in millions of euros)

30 June
2020

30 June 2019

adjusted

Chg. vs
adjusted

30 June 2019
published

Chg. vs
published

Stakes

6,898

8,454

(18%)

8,420

(18%)

Revenue*

849

995

(15%)

944

(10%)

Recurring operating profit

124

165

(25%)

136

(9%)

Net profit

50

96

(48%)

EBITDA**

174

208

(16%)

177

(2%)

EBITDA/revenue

20.5%

20.9%

18.8%

* Revenue: net gaming revenue and revenue from other activities
** EBITDA: recurring operating profit adjusted for depreciation and amortisation

Activity and results for H1 2020

  • Stakes of €6.9 billion, down 18.4%
  • Lottery stakes of €5.8 billion (-12.6%)

Lottery staked amounted to €5.8 billion, with a drop of 11.3% to €3.6 billion for instant games and a drop of 14.6% to €2.2 billion for draw games:

  • For instant games, the decline can be attributed in large part to the steep decline in footfall in points of sale during lockdown and the lack of activity in the product portfolio during the second quarter;
  • For draw games, the decrease can be ascribed chiefly to the suspension of Amigo, an express draw game in points of sales from 19 March to 8 June. Adjusted for Amigo, draw games stakes were down only slightly (-1.7%);
  • Online lottery stakes enjoyed good momentum, with an increase of 50% to €0.5 billion, and a marked acceleration in the second quarter, driven mainly by growth in the number of active players and the almost doubling of new registrations on fdj.fr.
  • Sports betting stakes of €1.1 billion (-38.8%)

Sports betting stakes totalled €1.1 billion. After a performance in line with objectives at the start of the year, sports betting stakes were impacted by the gradual cancellation of virtually all sporting competitions from mid-March 2020. No major sporting competitions took place during lockdown, which considerably reduced the betting offer. Since mid-May, sporting competitions, particularly football, have gradually resumed, resulting in a very significant resumption in stakes.

  • Revenue down 14.7% at €849 million

On half-yearly stakes of €6.9 billion (-18.4%), player winnings totalled €4.6 billion (-19.9%), representing a player payout (PPO) ratio of 67.3%, compared with 68.4% in the first half of 2019. The decline in the PPO reflects the change in the betting mix, with a higher share of lottery games. In addition, the sports betting PPO was reduced by unexpected results.

FDJ recorded gross gaming revenue (GGR: stakes less prizes won) down 15.1% at €2.3 billion. Net gaming revenue (NGR: GGR less contribution to the public finances) amounted to €829 million, i.e. 12.0% of stakes, with stability in the rate of public levies on games compared with that of the first half of 2019 at 63.5% of GGR, or €1.4 billion.

The FDJ Group’s revenue amounted to €849 million (-14.7%), compared with €995 million in the six months to end-June 2019.

  • EBITDA of €174 million, representing a margin of 20.5% on revenue (vs 20.9% in H1 2019)
  • Contribution margin by activity:
  • Lottery: contribution margin steady at 32.2%

The contribution margin of the Lottery BU was €219 million, i.e. a decline of €37 million (‑14.4%), for a margin on revenue of 32.2%, vs 33.2% in H1 2019 on the basis of revenue down 12.2% at €679 million.

Cost of sales, mainly the remuneration of distributors, was down 13.6% due to the drop in stakes in points of sale, while the slight increase of 6.6% in marketing and communication expenses to €65 million reflects the continued development of the product offering, partly offset by the reduction in advertising and promotional expenses.

  • Sports betting: contribution margin of 31.3%, an increase of 7 points due to the low PPO ratio

The Sports Betting BU’s contribution margin was €45 million in H1 2020, almost stable compared with the same period in 2019 (€48 million), i.e. a margin on revenue of 31.3%, up more than 7 points compared with the first half of 2019 (24.3%). Based on a drop of 38.8% in stakes, the lower half-yearly PPO ratio than in the first half of 2019 (73.1% vs 77.7%) helped limit to €50 million the decline in revenue (-25.7%) to €145 million.

The 39.3% reduction in cost of sales reflects trends in stakes, while the 15.8% decline in marketing and communication expenses to €34 million is related to the reduction in advertising and promotional initiatives against the backdrop of a reduced product offering.

  • Adjacent activities and holding company

Adjacent activities (International, Payments & Services and Entertainment) and the holding company recorded revenue of €24 million, with a contribution margin close to breakeven. Holding company costs amounted to €89 million, down €9 million compared with H1 2019.

  • EBITDA margin of 20.5%, virtually stable thanks in large part to the implementation of a savings plan of more than €80 million

From the onset of the health crisis and its first effects, the Group implemented a savings plan of more than €80 million for 2020. Two-thirds of the plan, more than half of which covered A&P expenditure, was implemented in H1, helping offset more than half of the decline in activity and thereby helping keep FDJ’s EBITDA margin above 20%.

The Group’s operating expenses were down 12.5% at €725 million, of which:

– Cost of sales of €482 million, down 17.6%, which notably includes the remuneration of €336 million for distributors, down €88 million (-21%), in line with the decline in stakes in the point-of-sale network;

– Marketing and communication expenses of €147 million, down nearly 2%;

– General and administrative expenses of €87 million, down 7%.

Depreciation and amortisation amounted to €50 million, compared with €43 million in H1 2019. Their growth was driven mainly by the amortisation of exclusive operating rights over a full half-year in 2020, compared with a single month in H1 2019.

On those bases, the FDJ Group recorded a recurring operating profit of €124 million (-24.9%) and EBITDA of €174 million (-16.4%), i.e. a margin on revenue of 20.5%, compared with 20.9% in June 2019.

  • Net income of €50 million including non-recurring items

In the first half of 2020, FDJ recorded other non-recurring operating expenses of €30 million, compared with €7 million in the first half of 2019. They related to Sporting Group, on which FDJ recorded impairment due to its sports betting activity in the United Kingdom.

The financial result for the first half of 2020 (expense of €5 million) reflects the change in the value of part of FDJ’s financial assets in a context of bearish financial markets.

After taking into account a net tax expense of €39 million, down €5 million, the Group’s net profit for the first half of 2020 was €50 million.

  • Available cash exceeding €800 million and net cash surplus of €298 million at end-June 2020

At the end of June 2020, the Group had more than €800 million in available cash.

The net cash surplus is one of the indicators of the level of net cash generated by the Group. It corresponds mainly to financial investments and gross cash (€1,154 million), less borrowings (€733 million).

As of 30 June 2020, it amounted to €298 million, an increase of €218 million compared with 31 December 2019. The change was mainly attributable to:

– The EBITDA generated over the half-year, plus a dual positive effect on working capital surplus linked on the one hand to the change in the payment schedule for public levies (monthly in 2020 but weekly in 2019) and on the other hand to unclaimed prizes only returned to the State at the end of the year;

– Against which are charged dividends in respect of 2019 and investments for the first half of the year.

For information, the net cash surplus at the end of June cannot be extrapolated to the end of December because there are significant calendar effects on the payments of public levies, including an advance on public levies in December.

A financial presentation is available on the FDJ group’s website
https://www.groupefdj.com/en/investors/financial-publications.html.

FDJ’s Board of Directors met on 29 July 2020 and reviewed the interim consolidated financial statements at 30 June 2020, which were prepared under its responsibility. The limited review procedures on the interim consolidated financial statements have been carried out. The review report of the statutory auditors is being issued.

The Group’s next financial communication

Given the changing nature of the situation, the estimates and forward-looking statement presented by FDJ cannot constitute either a forecast or a target. The Group will announce its stakes and revenue for the September quarter after trading on 14 October and will issue its new 2020 outlook as soon as possible.

 

About La Française des Jeux (FDJ Group):

France’s national lottery and leading gaming operator, the #2 lottery in Europe and #4 worldwide, FDJ offers secure, enjoyable and responsible gaming to the general public in the form of lottery games (draws and instant games) and sports betting (ParionsSport), available from physical outlets and online. FDJ’s performance is driven by a portfolio of iconic and recent brands, the #1 local sales network in France, a growing market, recurring investment and a strategy of innovation to make its offering and distribution more attractive with an enhanced gaming experience.

FDJ Group is listed on the Euronext Paris regulated market (Compartment A – FDJ.PA) and is included in the SBF 120, Euronext Vigeo France 20, STOXX Europe 600, MSCI Europe and FTSE Euro indices.

For further information, www.groupefdj.com

Appendices

Adjusted 2019 data, with the full-year application of the new tax regime that came into force on 1 January 2020 and the consolidation of Sporting Group over 12 months.

In € million

30 June 2020

30 June 2019
published

Chg. 30 June 2020 vs
30 June 2019 published

30 June 2019
adjusted

Chg. 30 June 2020 vs
30 June 2019 adjusted

Stakes*

6,898

8,420

(18.1%)

8,454

(18.4%)

Attributable to Lottery

5,777

6,609

(12.6%)

6,609

(12.6%)

Instant lottery games**

3,558

4,012

(11.3%)

4,012

(11.3%)

Draw games

2,219

2,598

(14.6%)

2,598

(14.6%)

Attributable to Sports betting

1,108

1,810

(38.8%)

1,810

(38.8%)

Digitalised stakes***

1,391

1,652

(15.8%)

1,652

(15.8%)

Offline stakes

6,269

7,917

(20.8%)

7,917

(20.8%)

* Stakes reflect wagers by players, and do not constitute the revenue of the FDJ Group
** Mainly scratch games (point of sale and online)
*** Digitalised stakes include online and digitalised stakes at the point of sale, i.e. using a digital service/application for their preparation, prior to registration by the distributor

In € million

30 June 2020

30 June 2019
published

Chg. 30 June 2020 vs
30 June 2019 published

30 June 2019
adjusted

Chg. 30 June 2020 vs
30 June 2019 adjusted

Stakes

6,898

8,420

(18.1%)

8,454

(18.4%)

Player winnings

4,646

5,757

(19.3%)

5,799

(19.9%)

Player payout ratio

67.3%

68.4%

68.6%

Gross gaming revenue (GGR)

2,253

2,663

(15.4%)

2,654

(15.0%)

GGR as a % of stakes

32.7%

31.6%

3.3%

31.4%

4.0%

Net gaming revenue (NGR)

829

933

(11.2%)

976

(15.0%)

NGR as a % of stakes

12.0%

11.1%

8.5%

11.5%

4.1%

Revenue

849

944

(10.1%)

995

(14.7%)

Segment reporting

30 June 2020
In € millions Lottery BU Sport
Betting BU
Other
segments
Holding
company
Total before
depreciation
and amortisation
Depreciation
and
amortisation
Total Group
Stakes

5,777

1,108

14

6,898

6,898

Gross gaming revenue

1,954

298

1

2,253

2,253

Net gaming revenue

677

145

6

829

829

Revenue

679

145

24

1

849

849

Cost of sales

(395)

(65)

(3)

(464)

(18)

(482)

Marketing and communication expenses

(65)

(34)

(21)

(12)

(133)

(14)

(147)

Contribution margin

219

45

(1)

(12)

251

(32)

219

General and administration expenses

(78)

(78)

(18)

(95)

EBITDA

174

Depreciation and amortisation

(50)

Recurring operating profit

124

BU Loterie BU Paris
sportifs
ABU Holding Total avant
amort.
Amort. Total Groupe
Mises

6,610

1,810

34

0

8,454

8,454

Produit Brut des Jeux (PBJ)

2,251

403

0

0

2,654

2,654

Produit Net des Jeux (PNJ)

771

195

9

0

976

976

Chiffre d’affaires

773

195

27

0

995

995

Coût des ventes

-456

-107

-3

0

-566

-19

-585

Coûts marketing et communication

-61

-41

-22

-14

-138

-12

-150

Marge contributive

256

48

2

-14

291

-31

260

Coûts administratifs et généraux

-83

-83

-12

-95

EBITDA

208

Dotations aux amortissements

-43

Résultat Opérationnel Courant

165

30 June 2019 published
In € millions Lottery
BU
Sport Betting
BU
Other
segments
Holding
company
Total before
depreciation and
amortisation
Depreciation and
amortisation
Total Group
Stakes

6,610

1,810

8,420

8,420

Gross gaming revenue

2,257

406

2,663

2,663

Net gaming revenue

759

173

2

933

933

Revenue

761

173

11

944

944

Cost of sales

(456)

(107)

(1)

(564)

(19)

(583)

Marketing and communication
expenses

(62)

(40)

(11)

(14)

(127)

(11)

(138)

Contribution margin

243

26

(2)

(14)

253

(30)

223

General and administration
expenses

(76)

(76)

(11)

(87)

EBITDA

177

Depreciation and amortisation

(41)

Recurring operating profit

136

Consolidated income statement

In € millions 30 June 2020 30 June 2019
published
Stakes

6,898.4

8,420.0

Player payout

(4,645.5)

(5,756.9)

Gross gaming revenue

2,252.8

2,663.0

Public levies

(1,429.8)

(1,692.4)

Structural allocations to counterparty funds

0.0

(39.1)

Other revenue from sports betting

6.0

1.9

Net gaming revenue

829.0

933.4

Revenue from other activities

19.7

10.5

Revenue

848.6

944.0

Cost of sales

(481.9)

(582.9)

Marketing and communication expenses

(147.5)

(138.1)

General and administrative expenses

(87.0)

(85.6)

Other recurring operating income

0.5

0.4

Other recurring operating expenses

(9.0)

(1.8)

Recurring operating profit

123.8

135.9

Other non recurring operating income

0.2

0.1

Other non recurring operating expenses

(30.3)

(7.3)

Operating profit

93.7

128.7

Cost of debt

(2.1)

(0.8)

Other financial income

5.7

12.2

Other financial expenses

(8.9)

(0.5)

Net financial income/(expense)

(5.2)

10.9

Share of net income for joint ventures

0.5

0.6

Profit before tax

89.0

140.2

Income tax expense

(38.8)

(44.4)

Net profit for the period

50.2

95.9

Attributable to :
Owners of the parent

50.2

95.9

Non -controlling interests

0.0

0.0

Basic earnings per share (in €)

0.26

0.50

Diluted earnings per share (in €)

0.26

0.50

In € millions

30 June 2020

30 June 2019
published

June 2020 vs
June 2019 published

30 June 2019
adjusted

June 2020 vs
June 2019 adjusted

Recurring operating profit

124

136

(8.8%)

165

(24.8%)

Depreciation and amortisation

(50)

(41)

22.0%

(43)

16.3%

EBITDA

174

177

(1.8%)

208

(16.4%)

Consolidated statement of comprehensive income

In € millions 30 June 2020 30 June 2019
published
Net profit for the period

50.2

95.9

Cash flow hedging, before tax

0.1

0.2

Net investment hedge on foreign activities, before tax

6.6

0.6

Net currency translation difference, before tax

(2.4)

0.3

Tax related to items that may subsequently be recycled

(2.1)

(0.2)

Items recycled or that may subsequently be recycled to profit

2.2

0.9

Actuarial gains and losses

0.3

(3.3)

Others

(0.0)

(0.0)

Tax related to actuarial gains and losses through equity

(0.1)

1.0

Items that may not subsequently be recycled to profit

0.2

(2.3)

Other comprehensive income/(expense)

2.4

(1.4)

Total comprehensive income for the period

52.7

94.5

Attributable to :
Owners of the parent

52.7

94.5

Non-controlling interests

0.0

0.0

Consolidated statement of financial position

In € millions
ASSETS 30 June 2020 31 December 2019
published
Goodwill

28.1

56.4

Exclusive operating rights

363.1

370.7

Intangible assets

162.2

148.3

Property, plant and equipment

385.7

394.0

Non-current financial assets

378.1

584.3

Investments in associates

14.9

14.5

Non-current assets

1,332.1

1,568.2

Inventories

16.3

10.5

Trade and distribution network receivables

385.8

469.8

Other current assets

302.0

314.8

Tax payable assets

6.0

18.9

Current financial assets

354.9

272.2

Cash and cash equivalents

475.6

201.5

Current assets

1,540.6

1,287.8

TOTAL ASSETS

2,872.7

2,856.0

In € millions
EQUITY AND LIABILITIES 30 June 2020 31 December 2019
published
Share capital

76.4

76.4

Statutory reserves

91.7

87.5

Retained earnings (incl. Net profit for the period)

366.2

406.7

Reserves for other comprehensive income/(expense)

1.2

(1.3)

Equity attributable to owners of the parent

535.4

569.2

Non-controlling interests

0.0

0.0

Equity

535.4

569.2

Provisions for pensions and other employee benefits

56.3

56.9

Non-current provisions

48.1

49.3

Deferred tax liabilities

26.1

24.9

Non-current player funds

0.0

0.0

Non-current financial liabilities

568.6

229.7

Non-current liabilities

699.1

360.9

Current provisions

15.9

16.7

trade and distribution network payables

314.1

411.6

Tax payable liabilities

1.0

0.7

Current player funds

176.4

156.6

Public levies

540.6

414.8

Winnings payable and distributable

244.4

189.3

Other current liabilities

180.6

169.6

Payable to the French State with respect to the exclusive operating rights

0.0

380.0

Current financial liabilities

165.1

186.5

Current liabilities

1,638.2

1,925.9

TOTAL EQUITY AND LIABILITIES

2,872.7

2,856.0

Consolidated statement of cash flows

In € millions 30 June 2020 30 June 2019
published
OPERATING ACTIVITIES
Net consolidated profit for the period

50.2

95.9

Change in depreciation, amortisation and impairment of non-current assets

75.9

43.1

Change in provisions

4.1

6.1

Disposal gains or losses

0.2

0.1

Income tax expense

38.8

44.4

Other non-cash items from P&L

(0.2)

0.0

Net financial (income)/expense

5.2

(10.9)

Share of net income from joint ventures

(0.5)

(0.6)

Non-cash items

123.5

82.2

Use of provisions – payments

(6.5)

(4.5)

Interest received

2.5

2.3

Income taxes paid

(25.2)

(31.9)

Change in trade receivables and other current assets

(19.6)

124.2

Change in inventories

(5.7)

(1.9)

Change in trade receivables and other current liabilities

222.9

(56.5)

Change in other components of working capital

(1.6)

(1.5)

Change in operating working capital

196.0

64.3

Net cash flow from/(used in) operating activities

340.6

208.3

INVESTING ACTIVITIES
Acquisitions of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

(423.2)

(32.4)

Acquisitions of investments

0.0

(111.8)

Disposals of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

0.1

0.0

Change in current and non-current financial assets

145.3

(50.1)

Disposals of other financial assets

0.0

0.0

Change in loan and advances granted

(26.9)

2.8

Dividends received from associates and non-consolidated share

0.0

0.4

Other

0.5

0.0

Net cash flow from/(used in) investing activities

(304.3)

(191.0)

FINANCING ACTIVITIES
Issue of long-term debt

380.0

113.3

Repayment of the current portion of long-term debt

(8.8)

(4.0)

Repayment of lease liabilities

(4.0)

(2.9)

Dividends paid to ordinary shareholder of the parent company

(83.4)

(118.3)

Interest paid

(4.8)

(0.8)

Other

(0.6)

0.0

Net cash flow from/(used in) financing activities

278.5

(12.7)

Impact of exchange rates change

(0.4)

0.9

Net increase/(decrease) in net cash

314.3

5.5

Cash and cash equivalent as at 1 January

201.5

167.2

Cash and cash equivalent as at 31 December

475.6

179.0

Current bank overdrafts as at 1 January

(40.2)

(7.2)

Current bank overdrafts as at 31 December

0.0

(13.6)

Consolidated statement of changes in equity

In € millions

Share capital

Statutory reserves

Retained earnings (incl. Net profit for the period)

Cash flow hedging

Net investment hedge on foreign activities

Net currency translation difference

Actuarial gains and losses

Reserves for other comprehensive income/
(expense)

Equity attributable to owners of the parent

Non-controlling interests

Total equity

 

 Equity as at 31 December 2018 

 76.4   

  85.3   

   401.1   

    0.2   

       0.0   

       2.1   

   (1.2)  

                  1.1   

   563.9   

       0.0   

  563.9   

 Net profit for the period 

     95.9   

      95.9

      0.0   

   95.9   

 Other comprehensive income/(expense)

     0.2

        0.4

        0.3

    (2.3)

                (1.4)

      (1.4)

    (1.4)

 Total comprehensive income/(expense) for the period 

   0.0   

    0.0   

     95.9   

    0.2   

       0.4   

       0.3   

   (2.3)  

               (1.4)  

     94.5   

    (0.0)  

    94.5   

 Appropriation of 2018 profit/(loss)

    2.0

      (2.0)

 2018 dividends paid

  (122.0)

  (122.0)

 (122.0)

 Equity as at 30 June 2019 

 76.4   

  87.4   

   372.8   

    0.4   

       0.4   

       2.4   

   (3.5)  

               (0.3)  

   536.2   

    (0.0)  

  536.2   

 Equity as at 31 December 2019 

 76.4   

  87.5   

   406.7   

  (0.1)  

     (1.4)  

       4.1   

   (3.9)  

               (1.3)  

   569.2   

       0.0   

  569.2   

 Net profit for the period 

     50.2   

     50.2   

   50.2   

 Other comprehensive income/(expense)

     0.1

        4.5

      (2.4)

     0.2

                  2.5

        2.5

      2.5

 Total comprehensive income/(expense) for the period 

   0.0   

    0.0   

     50.2   

    0.1   

       4.5   

     (2.4)  

     0.2   

                  2.5   

     52.7   

       0.0   

    52.7   

 Appropriation of 2019 profit/(loss)

    4.2

      (4.2)

 2019 dividends paid

    (86.0)

    (86.0)

   (86.0)

 Other

      (0.6)

      (0.6)

    (0.6)

 Equity as at 30 June 2020 

   76.4   

    91.7   

     366.1   

      0.0   

         3.1   

         1.7   

     (3.7)  

                    1.2   

     535.4   

        0.0   

    535.4   

Net cash surplus

In € millions 30 June 2020 31 December 2019
published
Non-current financial assets at amortised cost

160.0

440.0

Non-current assets fair value through profit or loss

131.3

90.4

Other non-current financial assets excluding deposits

32.4

29.3

Total non-current investments (a)

323.7

559.8

Current financial assets at amortised cost

349.0

253.0

Current financial assets at fair value through profit or loss

5.0

16.1

Current derivatives

0.8

0.9

Total current investments (b)

354.8

270.0

Total current and non-current investments

678.5

829.8

Investments, cash equivalents

185.0

121.2

Cash at bank and in hand

290.7

80.3

Total cash and cash equivalents

475.7

201.5

Total gross investments and cash

1,154.2

1,031.3

Long-term financial debt

546.1

205.0

Non-current lease liabilities

22.0

24.4

Total non-current financial debt (c)

568.1

229.4

Short-term financial debt

27.2

8.2

Current lease liabilities

7.2

7.0

Current derivatives

0.2

0.7

Other

130.5

170.5

Total current financial debt excluding deposits (d)

165.1

186.4

Total financial debt

733.2

415.8

INVESTMENTS AND NET CASH

421.0

615.5

Payable to the French State with respect to the exclusive operating rights

0.0

(380.0)

Reclassification of online players wallets not yet covered by trust

0.0

(26.9)

Restricted cash

(4.5)

(5.3)

Sums allocated exclusively to Euromillions winners

(72.6)

(77.2)

Net liability associated with the permanent fund surplus

(46.1)

(46.1)

NET CASH SURPLUS

297.8

79.9

(a) Non-current investments correspond to non-current financial assets (as set out in the notes to the consolidated financial statements – statement of financial position), excluding Euromillions deposits and guarantee deposits
(b) Current investments correspond to current financial assets (as set out in the notes to the consolidated financial statements – statement of financial position), excluding given deposits and guarantees
(c) Long-term financial debt corresponds to non-current financial liabilities (as set out in the notes to the consolidated financial statements – statement of financial position), excluding received deposits and guarantees
(d) Short-term financial debt corresponds to non-current financial liabilities (as set out in the notes consolidated financial statements – statement of financial position)

———————————————

1 Restated to reflect the new tax regime that came into force on 1 January 2020 and consolidating Sporting Group on a full-year basis. Based on 2019 reported figures, half-year revenue would have been down 10%.

Balkans

Montenegro Ministry Ignores EU Law and Bans Apple Pay, PayPal, Mobile Banking in Controversial Betting Law Amendments

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

In a move that has raised eyebrows across the global financial community, including the European betting and iGaming sectors, Montenegro has enacted amendments to its gambling laws that effectively ban the use of modern electronic payment methods, including Apple Pay, PayPal, mobile banking, IPS, and e-banking

Ironically, the Minister of Finance stated a few days ago that the country has no obligation to comply with EU rules, a paradoxical stance for a nation actively seeking EU membership and aiming to integrate into the world of digital business.

In 2021, the European Commission urged Montenegro to strengthen its efforts to counter money laundering. However, the recent amendments move in the opposite direction, potentially isolating the country from EU practices and global financial community trends.

Since the beginning of 2024, however, Montenegro’s gambling sector has been in turmoil.

 

The Industry Response

The controversial ban on electronic payments seems designed to curb competition, preventing the growth of foreign-owned companies, including U.S. enterprises. This move contradicts global business practices and undermines the principles of competitive business. A petition calling to halt the change received 25,000 signatures, representing around 5% of the country’s electorate, in just five days. It highlighted the risk of significant job losses in the industry and the potential economic repercussions of such legislative measures.

Montenegro Bet, the country’s nationwide trade association, has submitted the petition to the country’s assembly and initiated a constitutional review, highlighting concerns over the unconstitutionality of the amendments. Additionally, they are working with international institutions to draw attention to the negative impacts of the law changes and their contradictions with EU directives. All those attempts have remained without a single institutional response.

 

Overview of Breaches of EU Acquis by Article 68f

Much of the backlash to the amendments comes from the view that they conflict with European Union (EU) law. While Montenegro isn’t currently in the EU, it is a candidate for membership and is expected to align its laws with EU standards. The amendments clash with several key EU legal provisions, including the TFEU, Payment Services Directive, which seeks to form an integrated market for electronic payments, and the EU 4 and 5AML Directives, which categorize cash transactions as high risk for money laundering.

 

Multiple Lawsuits Incoming

The combination of apparent corruptive practices orchestrated by local companies within the same industry and certain individuals within the Ministry of Finance results in an attempt to de facto expel multiple operators, including those based in U.S, clearly denying equal market access.

This has already led to substantial legal challenges. Multiple operators are preparing preliminary steps toward legal action, including a lawsuit before the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

 

A Cash and Retail-Loving Law in the Middle of the Digital Age

The amendment to Article 68f of Montenegro’s gambling law has sparked significant concern within the country’s gambling sector. The new law disables various electronic payment methods, such as e-banking and mobile payments, for depositing funds into betting accounts. This leaves bettors in Montenegro with only two options: they must either enter a betting shop to place a cash wager, which then transfers funds into their accounts, or pay via card, but only at a terminal in a betting shop.

This strange move forces players to go to a store just to fund their online accounts, which is inconvenient in a time when digital transfers should be the norm.

 

Defying Global Trends and AML Standards – What Next?

Montenegro’s move to limit electronic payments is an outlier among global trends. Internationally, there is a clear shift towards reducing cash transactions in favor of electronic payments, as advocated by bodies like Moneyval and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The global financial community is embracing digital solutions for their transparency and efficiency.

Montenegro’s stance not only isolates it from EU practices but also contradicts the direction of the global financial community, increasing the risk of money laundering and undermining investor confidence.

The prohibition of the safest and most advanced methods of online payment business, such as Apple Pay and PayPal, in favor of promoting cash transactions, is a troubling development that warrants urgent attention and action from both national and international stakeholders.

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Baltics

Breaking Frontiers: Exploring the Evolution of iGaming Tech with Atlaslive’s CPO, Lasha Kupatadze

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Breaking Frontiers: Exploring the Evolution of iGaming Tech with Atlaslive’s CPO, Lasha Kupatadze
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

Get ready for the MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit 2024 by HIPTHER! The #hipthers are thrilled to introduce and put the spotlight on the companies and people who help us make the magic happen: our conference sponsors. Get to know them and join us in Tallinn, on 4-5 June to meet them in person!

Lasha Kupatadze, Chief Product Officer at Atlaslive, will be a Speaker at the Summit, offering valuable insights at the Panel about “Future-Proofing Digital Engagement: Mastering Gamification, Mobile Innovation, and Regulatory Compliance in the AI Era”.

 

Hello Lasha, thank you for taking the time for this interview. We are excited to get to know you and introduce you to our readers! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself, your professional journey, and your role at Atlaslive so far?

I’ve been in iGaming for nearly a decade and love it! Working with like-minded people to generate ideas and build products that customers love.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in different roles at both B2C and B2B companies, focusing on building engaging and fun customer experiences.

As the Chief Product Officer at Atlaslive, I get to lead our efforts in making our products the best they can be. My job involves guiding our product development while applying the latest technologies, like AI and blockchain, to make our platform even better. Since I joined Atlaslive, my focus has been on making sure our products not only meet but surpass what our partners and players expect. We’ve put a lot of effort into making personalized, fun experiences that draw players in and keep them coming back for more.

In short, my career has been all about adopting new technologies, developing enjoyable and engaging products, and leading teams to create top-notch iGaming experiences.

 

As the Chief Product Officer at Atlaslive, you play a crucial role in shaping the company’s product landscape. Can you share with us how Atlaslive’s mission of discovering how far iGaming tech can evolve influences your approach to product development?

Our goal is to see how far we can go with technology in iGaming, and this ambition is a huge part of how we build our products. We’re really into using the latest tech to make gaming fun, personalized, and safe for everyone.

We use big data to analyze a huge amount of information, understand and track different patterns in how people play and what they prefer. This helps us deeply examine our users’ behaviors, allowing us to customize our flexible platform to fit exactly what they like and even predict what they’ll want to do next. This approach makes things a lot easier for our partners. They can spend less time and effort trying to figure things out because we provide all the insights and tools they need to make smart decisions quickly.

Our approach is tech-oriented and centered on the player, and  boosts not only engagement but also guarantees that everything is secure and perfectly adjusted to the end-user preferences.

I consider personalization paramount – and we usually focus on creating an experience that feels personal and keeps players coming back for more. I think that this user-focused mindset, combined with our love for tech, ensures that every step we take in product development not only meets the industry’s needs but often goes beyond, setting new standards for what iGaming can be.

 

The Atlaslive platform offers versatile delivery solutions, including Sportsbook API integration, White Label, and Turnkey. How do these different solutions cater to the varying needs of iGaming operators, and what advantages do they offer in terms of time to market and customization?

At Atlaslive, we understand that the needs of iGaming operators vary greatly depending on their business goals, market approach, and technical expertise. That’s why we offer a range of flexible delivery solutions. All options are designed to meet specific requirements, providing key benefits in terms of quick market entry, starting from two days only, and the ability to adjust services to a specific brand or market demand.

Our Sportsbook API integration is perfect for tech-savvy operators who have their platforms but want to enhance them with our top-notch sportsbook features. This solution allows for high customization and rapid deployment, enabling operators to quickly adapt and scale their offerings. On the other hand, our White Label and Turnkey solutions are ideal for those looking to launch their operations quickly without the heavy lifting of developing the technology from scratch. These options offer the fastest route to market with a high degree of brand customization, allowing operators to maintain their unique brand identity while using our robust platform.

When Atlaslive offers its three solutions, we ensure care for all parties involved in this integration process, guaranteeing smooth implementation and an exceptional gaming experience for end-users. Quality and innovation are steadfast allies for Atlaslive, helping our partners to be satisfied and stay successful in the market.

 

One of Atlaslive’s core values is creating live connections between business ambitions and opportunities. How does the Atlaslive Platform facilitate these connections, and what impact does it have on the overall iGaming experience for operators and players?

Yes, at Atlaslive, we’re really focused on connecting business goals with opportunities. Our platform uses smart data analysis to give operators the insights they need to understand what players want. This means we can help them tune their offerings to fit player preferences, which makes the gaming experience much more personal and exciting for everyone.

We also make sure our system works smoothly with other tech tools out there, which keeps things running seamlessly for operators and enjoyable for players. Overall, our “creating live connections” approach helps provide a lively and engaging environment where businesses can grow and players are more engaged with the offerings they choose.

 

With your extensive experience in the iGaming industry, including leadership roles focused on product development, how do you ensure that Atlaslive remains at the forefront of innovation while meeting the evolving needs of the industry and its partners?

While working in the iGaming industry, I’ve learned that staying ahead isn’t just about catching the latest trends, it’s about creating them. At Atlaslive, we keep our finger on the pulse of technology and user expectations. My approach is direct: listen, innovate, and adapt. First, we listen. We’re in constant dialogue with our partners to understand their challenges and preferences. This feedback is very important — it drives our product development. At the same time, we conduct market research and trend analysis to stay informed about the latest in technology, player preferences, and regulatory changes. In such a way, we can anticipate shifts in the market and adapt our products accordingly.

Then, we innovate by infusing our platform with the latest technologies — whether it’s AI to enhance personalization or blockchain for security. Finally, we adapt quickly. The iGaming world moves fast, and flexibility is our superpower. We’re always ready to tweak our offerings to better serve our clients and stay relevant in the market.

 

Atlaslive recently underwent a rebranding process. Could you discuss the connection between this rebranding and the strategic vision of the company, particularly in terms of enhancing the iGaming experience and staying ahead in a competitive market?

The rebrand to Atlaslive is a future-proof of the company’s vision to stay dynamic in terms of technologies and boost the user experience at the same time while giving our partners even more freedom during different sports events and adjusting the necessary settings timely and effectively.

The recent rebranding of Atlaslive shows our direct ties to our vision and a fresh start in staying true to our core values. With this rebranding, we’re emphasizing our focus on being a tech-forward company that always prioritizes our partners. Atlaslive – the tech behind the game.

 

At the MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit, you will be joining the discussion about the strategic integration of gamification to boost player retention and loyalty in the iGaming sector. In a nutshell, what is your perspective on the matter, and how does gamification align with Atlaslive’s vision?

Well, what is gamification? To keep it simple, it’s about making the journey from point A to point B fun for the user. That’s what gamification is all about, in a nutshell.

I prefer using both quantitative and qualitative data to understand our customers and build user experiences based on this knowledge.

One of my first experiences with gamification was one of the world’s largest producers of soft drinks campaign where each bottle cap had a letter. If you collected all the letters to spell ‘happiness,’ you could exchange them for various prizes. I remember the excitement I felt before opening each bottle. I bought many of them just to see what letter I’d get. That’s a perfect real-life example of gamification.

We create similar experiences for iGaming users at Atlaslive. For instance, they might open a mystery box without knowing what’s inside. We use gamification techniques that evoke excitement and fun, drawing on our understanding of what users enjoy.

To put it simply, we understand our end-users and strive to create products and services that bring smiles to their faces. We monitor the effectiveness of our gamification tools through direct customer feedback and analytical data. Some of our projects that employ these techniques have seen a significant 30% increase in engagement and conversion rates.

By focusing on personalized and interactive experiences, we create a dynamic and engaging environment that keeps players returning, ensuring long-term success for both our platform and our partners.

Thank you for this insightful interview, Lasha! We look forward to meeting you in Tallinn, and hearing your valuable insights on Mastering Gamification, Mobile Innovation, and Regulatory Compliance in the AI Era!

Join us in Tallinn to connect with Lasha and the Team of Atlaslive – the dynamic iGaming platform focusing on “THE TECH BEHIND THE GAME”

Get your Tickets to the MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit Now!

 

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Latest News

Xtremepush agrees strategic partnership with Purple Square CX

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Xtremepush agrees strategic partnership with Purple Square CX
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Collaboration serves to extend provider’s reach across Europe  

Xtremepush, the leading provider of CRM and loyalty marketing powered by AI, has formed a strategic technology partnership with customer experience specialist Purple Square CX.

The collaboration will see Purple Square CX offer Xtremepush’s market-leading customer engagement platform and real-time Customer Data Platform (CDP) to its European customers, which include leading operators from within the iGaming industry.

Purple Square CX’s clients can now also benefit from Xtremepush’s groundbreaking new InfinityAI solution. Set to transform operational strategies across the iGaming sector through sophisticated marketing techniques, retention-boosting InfinityAI utilises adaptive AI technology to enable operators to create highly customised marketing models on the fly in response to emerging trends.

UK-based Purple Square CX is a customer experience advisory offering a diverse range of services aimed at enhancing customer interactions. Its expertise lies in three key areas – customer experience advice and strategy, marketing automation, and CDPs.

The latest partnership coincides with a significant period of commercial growth worldwide for Xtremepush, with high-profile operator partnerships concluded in LatAm, the US, the UK and Europe.

Tommy Kearns, CEO of Xtremepush, said: “We’re excited to be joining forces with Purple Square CX, increasing the number of potential customers we can serve with our unified customer engagement platform and real-time CDP.

“Purple Square CX is renowned as one of Europe’s leading customer experience specialists and in helping to deliver our solution to its big-name operator partners, we believe this is a partnership that will bear fruit for both parties.”

Timothy Biddiscombe at Purple Square CX, said: “Our agnostic approach to technology means we are always looking for partnerships that will help to bring increased value to our customers. Xtremepush fits that bill perfectly.

“Xtremepush’s range of solutions, including its new InfinityAI technology, is very impressive. We look forward to working together to help to drive superior relationships between operators and their customers.”

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