* Highlights revenue-enhancing migration to mobile
* Sees Olympics as chance to attract new customers
By Keith Weir
LONDON, June 29 The Euro 2012 soccer tournament
helped online gambling exchange Betfair to report
strong trading on Friday, with the development of mobile apps
seen as a driver of future revenue growth.
The online bet-matching company, set up 12 years ago,
reported a 15 percent rise in underlying profits (EBITDA) from
its core businesses to 92 million pounds ($142.66 million) in
the year to April 30. Betfair shares rose 2.8 percent to 755.5p
by 0825 GMT.
Interim chief executive Stephen Morana said that this
month's Euro 2012 championships had been "the world's biggest
ever sports betting event", noting that the company had taken
more bets on the tournament than it did on the 2010 World Cup.
Betfair said that revenue from core operations was up 18
percent over the past eight weeks. Morana said that Euro 2012
was responsible for about a third of the increase.
The company also highlighted a sharp increase in mobile
betting on smartphones and tablet computers. The company
produced a Euro 2012 mobile app and said that it could replicate
the product for future major tournaments.
Chief technology officer Tony McAlister, who developed the
app, said that the migration to mobile would enhance revenues.
"There is a substantial uplift per customer because they bet
more with their mobile products than they do online," he told
Reuters. "Sitting in front of one of these Euro 2012 matches
with your iPad on your lap really increases the betting that
customers are doing."
PASSING THE BATON
Betfair acts as an intermediary between gamblers wanting to
place a bet or offer odds to others, taking a commission on
their wins and generally offering better odds than traditional
bookmakers, which take bets directly from customers.
The company floated in October 2010 at a price of 16.10
pounds - more than double the current level.
Betfair faces competition from traditional bookmakers who
are seeking to develop rival online and mobile operations while
maintaining their shops on British high streets.
The complexity of that juggling act was underlined on
Thursday, when shares in Ladbrokes fell 12 percent after
Britain's second-biggest bookmaker said that profits from its
digital division would fall more than expected.
Morana, the company's finance director, is holding the CEO
role on a temporary basis until the arrival of Breon Corcoran,
who will join the company from Irish bookmaker Paddy Power Plc
The transition will come during the Olympic Games in London,
which begin on July 27. Morana joked that he was "counting down
the days" until he handed over the pressures of the top job.
Bookmakers have been cautious about the Olympics and Morana
repeated the mantra that it was "not a huge betting event".
"With the Olympics, we're all venturing into the unknown. It
will be fantastic in bringing in new customers, but there will
be some cannibalisation," he said, referring to how the Games
would draw attention from sports such as horse racing.