Australian lotteries and gaming operator Tabcorp has reported strong recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic despite a year-on-year revenue and statutory net profit decline in the first half of its financial year.
The firm announced that its group revenue for the six months to 31 December 2020 came in at AUS$2.87bn, down 1.5% from $2.91bn achieved in 2019.
Lotteries and keno generated a “strong digital growth and excellent game portfolio performance”, according to the firm, with revenues hitting $1.609bn, up 1.6% on the first half of the 2019-20 financial year despite the impact of Covid-19.
Tabcorp also declared an increase in sales across all its base lottery and keno games in H1, in large part thanks to the refresh of both the Set for Life and Saturday Lotto games. The share of turnover attributed to digital increased to lottery (32.1%) and keno (17.1%).
Managing Director and CEO David Attenborough said: “We are experiencing a strong recovery following the recent market challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic continued to impact Tabcorp’s group earnings in 1H21, with the retail closures and restrictions, especially in Victoria, having a material impact. However, we are pleased with the way our teams and partners responded to the substantial operational challenges the pandemic presented.
“Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated the importance of serving customers with a seamless, multi-channel experience. Investments made to modernise our digital offering in recent years drove significant benefits.
“Our Lotteries & Keno business delivered strong digital growth and excellent performance across the whole portfolio, including the refreshed Set For Life and Saturday Lotto games. Over the last three years, we have demonstrated a strong track record of refreshing and relaunching lottery games to grow customer engagement and rejuvenate the player experience.”
Elsewhere, Tabcorp’s wagering division continued to focus on optimising its ‘omnichannel approach’ and platform infrastructure, as TAB units reported a strong emergence from lockdown.
Wagering and media revenue increased by 0.8% to $1.19bn ($1.18bn in 2019-20). Digital growth helped to counteract declines in retail, as the firm noted a 34.0% increase in digital revenue and a 43% rise in digital turnover while retail was hindered due to Covid-19.
However, despite this growth, Tabcorp suffered a major decline in gaming service revenue from $149.0m to $73.0m, once again due to the impact of Covid-19, with some states having been forced to close venues in line with restrictions.
Closures in Victoria had an impact in particular, with the state accounting for 30% of all gaming services revenue. Greater Melbourne venues were not allowed to reopen until November, but facilities reopened from June in other states.
The firm’s improved trading results saw it declare net profits after tax of AUS$207m, down 3% on 2019/2020 results of AUS$214m.