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The Stars Group Reports First Quarter 2018 Results

George Miller



The Stars Group Reports First Quarter 2018 Results
Reading Time: 6 minutes

TORONTO, May, 2018 – The Stars Group Inc. (NASDAQ: TSG; TSX: TSGI) reported its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2018 and provided certain additional highlights and updates. Unless otherwise noted, all dollar ($) amounts are in U.S. dollars.

“The Stars Group’s strong first quarter results continued our organic growth trajectory,” stated Rafi Ashkenazi, The Stars Group’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are pleased with the performance of each of our verticals, poker, casino and sportsbook, which are benefiting not only from the continued success of Stars Rewards, but also from our strategy of focusing on the customer and continued improvements to our product offerings.”

“Moving forward, the exceptional foundation of our existing business will be complemented by our acquisitions of CrownBet and William Hill Australia, and expected completion of the Sky Betting & Gaming acquisition. These acquisitions will help diversify our revenue base, increase our exposure to regulated markets, and transform our combined sportsbook into a second customer acquisition channel. These new additions will accelerate not only the organic growth we are seeing in our existing business, but also our progress towards realizing our vision of becoming the world’s favorite iGaming destination.”

First Quarter 2018 and Subsequent Financial Highlights 

Revenues – Revenues for the quarter increased approximately 23.8% year-over-year. Excluding the impact of year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates, revenues for the quarter would have increased by approximately 12.4%. Real-money online poker revenues and real-money online casino and sportsbook combined revenues represented approximately 62.6% and 34.2% of revenues for the quarter, respectively.

Poker Revenues – Real-money online poker revenues for the quarter were $245.9 million, or an increase of approximately 12.4% year-over-year. Excluding the impact of year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates, real-money online poker revenues would have increased by approximately 2.3% for the quarter. The increase in poker revenue was primarily driven by the positive impact of the Stars Rewards loyalty program, foreign exchange fluctuations, and the introduction of shared poker liquidity in France and Spain, as offset by, among other things, the cessation of operations or difficult operating conditions in certain markets including Australia and Colombia.

Casino & Sportsbook Revenues – Real-money online casino and sportsbook combined revenues for the quarter were $134.5 million, or an increase of approximately 55.0% year-over-year. During the three months ended March 31, 2018, 20.7% of the combined casino and sportsbook revenues related to sportsbook revenues. Excluding the impact of year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates, real-money online casino and sportsbook combined revenues would have increased by approximately 39.3% for the quarter. The increase in casino and sportsbook combined revenue was primarily driven by continued improvements in The Stars Group’s casino and sportsbook product offerings, positive impacts of foreign exchange fluctuations, and the addition of revenue related to the acquisition of a majority of the equity interests in CrownBet.

Debt and Cash – Total long-term debt outstanding at the end of the quarter was $2.45 billion with a weighted average interest rate of 5.1%. As previously disclosed, on April 6, 2018, The Stars Group successfully increased the size, repriced at lower interest rates and extended the maturity on its U.S. dollar and Euro denominated first lien term loans and revolving credit facility, amended and restated the applicable credit agreement, and fully repaid the remaining $95 million outstanding on its second lien term loan. The Stars Group ended the first quarter of 2018 with approximately $257 million in operational cash on its balance sheet.

First Quarter 2018 and Subsequent Operational Highlights 

Quarterly Real-Money Active Uniques (QAUs) – Total QAUs were approximately 2.24 million, a decrease of approximately 4.6% year-over-year primarily led by The Stars Group’s strategy of focusing on positive return customer relationship management initiatives to attract high-value, net-depositing customers (primarily recreational players) and the cessation of operations or difficult operating conditions in certain markets including Australia and Colombia. Approximately 2.09 million of such QAUs played online poker during the quarter, a decrease of approximately 5.5% year-over-year, while The Stars Group’s online casino offerings had approximately 621,800 QAUs, a decrease of 2.4% year-over-year, which The Stars Group continues to estimate as one of the largest active casino player bases among its competitors. The Stars Group’s emerging online sportsbook offerings had approximately 335,800 QAUs, a 16.3% increase year-over-year.

Quarterly Net Yield (QNY) – Total QNY was $165, an increase of 26.7% year-over-year, and QNY excluding the impact of year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates was $155, an increase of 18.7% year-over-year. QNY is a non-IFRS measure.

Net Deposits – Net Deposits were $353.4 million in the first quarter, an increase of 25.9% year-over-year. Net Deposits are closely correlated to The Stars Group’s reported net gaming revenue as some or all of the deposits eventually become revenue. The Stars Group believes that the increase in Net Deposits was primarily driven by the implementation of the Stars Rewards loyalty program and continued focus on high-value customers (primarily recreational players), positive impacts from foreign exchange fluctuations and continued development of the casino and sportsbook product offerings.

Customer Registrations – Customer Registrations increased by 2.3 million during the quarter.

CrownBet and William Hill Australia – On February 27, 2018, The Stars Group acquired a 62% equity interest in CrownBet Holdings Pty Limited, an Australian-based online sportsbook, from Crown Resorts Limited and then on April 24, 2018, The Stars Group increased its equity interest in CrownBet to 80%, and CrownBet completed the acquisition of William Hill Australia Holdings Pty Ltd. The aggregate purchase price for these transactions was $435 million (inclusive of $117.7 million to acquire the 62% equity interest in CrownBet), which was paid in a combination of cash and the issuance of approximately 3.1 million newly-issued common shares of The Stars Group.

Sky Betting & Gaming – On April 21, 2018, The Stars Group announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Sky Betting & Gaming, one of the United Kingdom’s leading online sportsbooks and gaming providers. The aggregate purchase price was $4.7 billion, of which $3.6 billion will be payable in cash and the remainder will be payable through the issuance of approximately 37.9 million newly-issued common shares. Completion of the transaction is conditional upon obtaining customary approvals from the Toronto Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and certain gaming and other regulatory authorities, in addition to the completion of other customary closing conditions. To finance the cash portion of the purchase price for the transaction, The Stars Group obtained fully committed debt financing of $6.9 billion, including $5.1 billion of first lien term loans, $1.4 billion of senior unsecured notes and a $400 million revolving credit facility. The funded proceeds of $6.5 billion will be used for the cash portion of the transaction consideration, refinancing The Stars Group’s existing first lien term loans and repaying Sky Betting & Gaming’s outstanding debt.

2018 Full Year Guidance 

Full Year Guidance – The Stars Group intends to provide revised 2018 full year financial guidance to include its acquisitions of Crown Bet, William Hill Australia and Sky Betting & Gaming when it releases its financial results for the second quarter in August. The Stars Group continues to be satisfied with the performance of its existing operations and as of the date hereof continues to expect the following 2018 full year financial guidance ranges:

Revenues of between $1,390 and $1,470 million;

Adjusted EBITDA of between $625 and $650 million;

Adjusted Net Earnings of between $487 and $512 million; and

Adjusted Net Earnings per Diluted Share of between $2.33 and $2.47.

These unaudited expected results reflect The Stars Group’s existing business, excluding CrownBet, William Hill Australia and Sky Betting & Gaming. These expectations also reflect management’s view of current and future market and business conditions, including assumptions of (i) potential negative operating conditions in Russia expected to begin in late-May 2018, (ii) no other material regulatory events, and (iii) no material foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations, particularly against the Euro. Such guidance is also based on a Euro to U.S. dollar exchange rate of 1.20 to 1.00, Diluted Shares of between 207,000,000 and 209,000,000 for the high and low ends of the Adjusted Net Earnings per Diluted Share range, respectively, and certain accounting assumptions.

Financial Statements, Management’s Discussion and Analysis and Additional Information 

The Stars Group’s unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements for the three months ended March 31, 2018 (the “Q1 2018 Financial Statements”), management’s discussion and analysis thereon (the “Q1 2018 MD&A”), as well as additional information relating to The Stars Group and its business, can be found on SEDAR at, Edgar at and The Stars Group’s website at

In addition to press releases, securities filings and public conference calls and webcasts, The Stars Group intends to use its investor relations page on its website as a means of disclosing material information to its investors and others and for complying with its disclosure obligations under applicable securities laws. Accordingly, investors and others should monitor the website in addition to following The Stars Group’s press releases, securities filings and public conference calls and webcasts. This list may be updated from time to time.

About The Stars Group
The Stars Group is a leading provider of technology-based product offerings in the global gaming and interactive entertainment industries. The Stars Group directly or indirectly, including through its Stars Interactive Group division, owns gaming and related consumer businesses and brands, such as PokerStars, PokerStars Casino, BetStars, Full Tilt, and the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship, European Poker Tour, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Latin American Poker Tour, Asia Pacific Poker Tour, PokerStars Festival and PokerStars MEGASTACK live poker tour and event brands. These brands together have millions of registered customers globally and collectively form the largest poker business in the world, comprising online poker games and tournaments, sponsored live poker competitions, marketing arrangements for branded poker rooms in popular casinos in major cities around the world, and poker programming and content created for television and online audiences. The Stars Group, through certain of these and other brands, also offers non-poker gaming product offerings, including casino and sportsbook. The Stars Group, through certain of its subsidiaries, is licensed or approved to offer, or offers under third party licenses or approvals, its product offerings in various jurisdictions throughout the world, including in Europe, both within and outside of the European Union, Australia, the Americas and elsewhere. In particular, as of the date hereof, The Stars Group holdings gaming licenses or related operating approvals in 18 jurisdictions, and PokerStars, the world’s most licensed online gaming brand, holds gaming licenses or related operating approvals in 17 of those jurisdictions.

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George Miller started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Gaming Innovation Group launches online casino with SkyCity in New Zealand

Zoltan Tundik



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Reading Time: 3 minutes


Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GiG) today launched an online casino with SkyCity Malta (a subsidiary of New Zealand based SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited (SkyCity) its long-term Tier 1 partner. GiG will supply New Zealand customers with a fully managed, first-class online casino experience focused on host responsibility, trust, fun and entertainment. The new experience of online casino is now available for end-users in New Zealand.

Today’s announcement follows GiG signing an agreement with SkyCity on 21 May 2019 for the provision of its turnkey and fully managed online casino solution, including a gambling license. The turnkey solution, powered by its leading technology and flexible architecture, includes the technical platform, fully managed services, gaming content, front end development, CRM, compliance, and marketing. GiG will operate the online casino site from Malta on behalf of SkyCity.

SkyCity is one of Australasia’s leading gaming, entertainment and hospitality groups with world-class casino facilities in both New Zealand and Australia. SkyCity is a listed company in both New Zealand and Australia with a current enterprise value of around NZ$3bn (€1.8bn). SkyCity’s vision is to be the leader in gaming, entertainment, and hospitality in its communities. Responsible gaming is one of the cornerstones of its focus on sustainability and being a good corporate citizen.

The offshore online gambling market in New Zealand is currently estimated at approximately NZ$160m (€96m)* with the total gambling market in New Zealand estimated at NZ$2.7bn (€1.6bn) 2019e**. The New Zealand market is following the worldwide trend of strong and accelerating growth in online channels, underpinned by changing demands of consumers and constant evolution of technology. The general expectation is that the country will regulate online casino gambling in the foreseeable future. All gambling which takes place in New Zealand is regulated by the country’s Department of Internal Affairs.

This partnership is expected to make a significant positive contribution to GiG’s revenues from 2020 onwards, however, GiG does not expect a material impact on its revenues in 2019.

On the news of today’s announcement, Graeme Stephens, Chief Executive Officer of SkyCity says: “This is an exciting day for SkyCity and one we have been working towards for some time alongside SkyCity Malta and our partner GiG. While ultimately a regulated online gaming market remains the preferred solution, the site launch is another step on our journey of pursuing opportunities to grow and diversify our earnings, addressing a new, fast growing industry which is highly complementary to our land-based activities and offering customers a multi-channel gaming experience.”

Robin Reed, Chief Executive Officer at GiG says: “GiG is pursuing a strategy of becoming the global partner for strong brands in iGaming. SkyCity Entertainment Group is the largest and most reputable gambling and leisure firm in New Zealand. We are very proud to have been entrusted to provide our full suite of gaming services to them. It has been great to work with Graeme and his accomplished team and due to a great collaboration we have managed to launch a state-of-the art digital casino experience only two months after signing the agreement. We are looking forward to supporting SkyCity in its aspirations to provide the leading online gambling venue in New Zealand.” 

*Source: SKYCITY

**Source: H2GC

About Gaming Innovation Group (GiG): 

Gaming Innovation Group Inc. is a technology company providing solutions, products and services throughout the entire value chain in the iGaming industry. Founded in 2012, Gaming Innovation Group’s vision is ‘To open up iGaming and make it fair and fun for all’. Through its ecosystem of products and services, GiG is connecting operators, suppliers and users, to create the best iGaming experiences in the world. Gaming Innovation Group operates out of Malta and is dual-listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol GIG and on Nasdaq Stockholm under the ticker symbol GIGSEK.

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Vlad Poptamas



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The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority will conduct an inquiry under the NSW Casino Control Act into the proposed sale of shares in Crown Resorts from James Packer’s CPH Crown Holdings Pty Ltd to Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited, a Hong Kong-based casino operator, through a subsidiary.

The sale was announced in a Crown Resorts/ASX Media Release on 31 May 2019 and has apparently yet to be finalised.

The Authority is inquiring into this transaction under section 35 of the Act together with various matters raised in recent media reports published by the Nine Network, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age relating to Crown Resorts.

The Authority has issued notices to relevant Crown parties and other parties compulsorily seeking documents and information which will assist it in its investigations and be used in the inquiry.

The Authority is to have regard to the primary objects of the Act in exercising its functions.

This includes ensuring that the management and operation of a casino remain free from criminal influence or exploitation, that gaming in a casino is conducted honestly and controlling the potential of a casino to cause harm to the public interest and to individuals and families.

The Authority will appoint the Honourable Patricia Bergin SC to conduct the inquiry.

Ms Naomi Sharp SC and Mr Scott Aspinall will be appointed as counsel assisting the inquiry. Patricia Bergin SC was a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales from 1999 to 2017, serving as Commercial List Judge and thereafter as Chief Judge in Equity from 2009 to January 2017.

Since her retirement from the Court in 2017, Ms Bergin served an International Judge on the Singapore International Commercial Court.

The inquiry will take evidence in public, with the capacity to conduct private hearings to receive confidential information from law enforcement or other sensitive information.

Section 143A of the Act will give Ms Bergin similar powers, authorities, protections and immunities to those conferred upon a commissioner under the Royal Commissions Act 1923 (NSW).

The Terms of Reference and a timetable for public submissions will be published by the Authority shortly and announcements will be made later regarding the processes of the inquiry, including how submissions can be made.

Media contact The Authority has engaged Norton Rose Fulbright solicitors to assist with its conduct of the inquiry.

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Crown Casino Denies Links to Organised Crime

Niji Narayan



Crown Casino Denies Links to Organised Crime
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A television documentary has made allegations linking Crown Casino to organised crime, money laundering and human trafficking.

The investigation into Crown Casino for the documentary was carried out by an Australian television Channel and two newspapers. The story was based on tens of thousands of documents apparently leaked from the company that owns casinos in the cities of Melbourne and Perth, and is planning another in Sydney.

The documentary alleged links between Crown and organised crime and claims the company turned a “blind eye” to money laundering and exploited weaknesses in Australia’s immigration processes to fly wealthy Chinese gamblers into the country without proper checks. There are also claims it had business links with an Australian brothel that has been investigated over human trafficking.

“I now know of three police officers — two currently serving — who have openly said to my staff that in Victoria, Crown is regarded as the Vatican, an independent sovereign state all to its own where the laws of Victoria, the laws of the Commonwealth (of Australia) do not apply,” Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said.

The state of Victoria has ordered the state’s gambling office to examine the claims against Crown Casino “as a matter of priority.” Experts have also demanded Australia’s anti-money laundering regulator AUSTRAC examine claims that criminals have passed money through Crown Casino.

The company has strongly denied the allegations. In a series of newspaper advertisements, the company said it wanted to set the “record straight in the face of a deceitful campaign against Crown.” Crown Casino accused the TV documentary of unfairly attempting to damage its reputation. It also said it takes its regulatory obligations very seriously.

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