Paddy Power Betfair sees first-quarter earnings dip

Bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair reported flat first quarter revenues while underlying earnings dipped to £102 million

BOOKIE Paddy Power Betfair saw first-quarter profits come under pressure when punters slowed down their betting after enduring a four-month losing streak.

The group booked flat revenue at £408 million in the three months to March 31 while underlying earnings dipped 8 per cent to £102 million.

This, Paddy said, was down to customer activity in the UK being "adversely affected by the sustained period of bookmaker-friendly sports results from November to February".

Bookmakers cashed in over Christmas when a large number of bets were placed on Arsenal and Liverpool, who then went on to under perform over the festive period.

Paddy also flagged a "high level of racing fixture cancellations" - linked to the extreme weather in March - as dragging on its performance.

It expects full-year underlying earnings to come in between £470 million and £495 million.

Boss Peter Jackson said: "We have made good progress against our strategic priorities.

"In Europe, the successful completion of our platform integration has resulted in a meaningful improvement to the Paddy Power product.

"This has seen the brand's gaming revenue returning to growth from February and a significant uplift in Cash Out usage and in-running betting during the Cheltenham Festival."

The group is also returning £500 million of cash to shareholders, which it said represents a step towards a "more efficient capital structure".

It comes as bookmakers brace for the impact of state intervention in the sector this month.

The Government is to cut the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2, with betting firms braced for a profits hit as a result of the change.

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