Sazka Group has published its financial results for the first quarter of 2021, with CEO Robert Chvatal noting a ‘robust performance’ following a 30% gross gaming revenue (GGR) increase year-on-year (YoY).
The Pan-European lottery and sports betting operator reported a consolidated GGR improvement YoY to €526m (Q1 2020: €405m). Excluding CASAG and Stoiximan, Q1 2021 consolidated GGR decreased by 59% YoY to €166m (Q1 2020: €405m), as Czech Republic physical retail revenues performed well but Greece was affected by COVID restrictions.
The group also announced a consolidated operating EBITDA growth of 20% YoY to €133m (Q1 2020: €110m). Excluding CASAG and Stoiximan, consolidated operating EBITDA decreased by 33% year-on-year to €75m (Q1 2020: €112m).
It also declared that its consolidated adjusted EBITDA, which excludes certain one-off items, increased by 4% YoY to €144m (Q1 2020: €138m), and a consolidated profit after tax improvement by 44% YoY to €35m (Q1: €24m).
Robert Chvatal, Sazka Group CEO, commented: “I am pleased to report that Sazka Group delivered a robust performance in Q1. Our GGR increased by 30% year on year and our Adjusted EBITDA increased by 4% with a healthy margin of 51%.
“The first three months of 2021 have once again shown that we are well-positioned thanks to our diverse range of products, sales channels and geographical exposure, our rapidly expanding online business, our favourable cost structure, and the strong cash flow generation of our business.”
Chvatal also noted that he was ‘particularly encouraged’ by the performances of Sazka’s businesses in the Czech Republic and Italy and its Austrian Lotteries business during the period, all of which posted record sales.
The CEO also gave credit to ‘strong online momentum’ for the group’s achievement during Q1, saying: “Online was already a major strategic focus for us before COVID-19 and our experience in the last year has only emphasised the benefits of the online channel.
“COVID-19 has allowed us to increase our user base faster than would have otherwise been the case, with significant increases in registrations and active users, as well as several exciting product launches. Importantly, we have maintained this strong momentum as restrictions have eased.
“In the Czech Republic our online business delivered 37% of GGR in Q1 and Stoiximan in Greece – which is a fully online business – had another extremely strong quarter delivering €103m of GGR, an increase of 61% year on year, and €28m of EBITDA in Q1.”
Sazka noted that it is starting to see a recovery in its Greece business and the Austrian and international casinos now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. It also declared it has continued to make progress with its strategic objectives.
Since the group acquired another 4.31% shareholding in Casinos Austria AG in Q1 2020, which took its shareholding to almost 60%, it is making progress in the restructuring of the Austrian casinos, which it expects to deliver around €45m of annual cost savings. Alongside its good performance of Austrian Lotteries, the group is delighted with the improved performance of its Austrian business since it acquired control in June 2020.
Sazka has also continued to focus on first-party data as a source of value and for player protection, making improvements to its customer proposition. It is also happy to have launched Stoiximan’s in-house sports betting platform.
Chvatal concluded by saying he was ‘very pleased’ with the operator’s performance in Q1, commenting: “I look forward to a great year as our strong trading momentum persists, our impacted businesses in Greece and Austria return to normal conditions, and we continue to make progress on our strategic objectives.”