Betfair full year profits boosted by World Cup

Betfair Chase Festival at Haydock Park Racecourse, Newton-le-Willows. John Giles/PA Wire
Betfair Chase Festival at Haydock Park Racecourse, Newton-le-Willows. John Giles/PA Wire
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Online gambling company Betfair posted a better than expected rise in full-year profit, led by strong revenue growth and a big surge in new customers.

The firm, whose main exchange product allows gamblers to bet against each other, said core profit for the year to April 30 rose 32 per cent to £120.2m, ahead of raised guidance of £113-118m given by the firm in March.

Revenue grew 21 per cent to £476.5m with double digit growth across sports, gaming and Betfair U.S. New customers rose by 65 per cent on the back of strong marketing, new products and a boost from the 2014 football World Cup.

Active customers increased by half to 1.7 million.

Breon Corcoran, Betfair’s chief executive officer, said: “The financial year started with the World Cup, which allowed us to engage with many new and existing customers and gain trading momentum.

“This carried on throughout the rest of the year, culminating in record customer numbers and betting volumes at the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National meeting.”

Betfair has benefited from a slimmed operation focussed on more secure markets and higher product and marketing spend, while growth has also been boosted by avoiding heavy costs and regulations associated with betting shops that rivals such as William Hill and Ladbrokes contend with.

Future profits however will be hit by a new UK tax on profits from bets made by its UK-based customers, which crimped full-year income by £19m. The move closed a loophole that allowed bookmakers to minimise tax bills on online earnings by basing operations offshore in places like Gibraltar.

Betfair said it was upbeat on prospects despite the new tax regime. Current trading was good, the firm said, adding it was confident of delivering on expectations for its new fiscal year.