Sky Bet helps The Stars Group grow turnover to more than $2bn
The Stars Group has reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended 31 December 2018 and provided 2019 full year financial guidance ranges, as well as certain additional highlights and updates.
“2018 was a landmark year for the company,” said Rafi Ashkenazi, The Stars Group’s Chief Executive Officer. “We completed the acquisitions of Sky Betting & Gaming in the U.K. and BetEasy in Australia, extended our licensed footprint to 21 jurisdictions around the world and began laying the foundations to grow our presence in the U.S.,” stated Mr. Ashkenazi.
“Our International business saw strong organic growth in the year despite restrictions in certain markets and lapping the initial roll-out of our Stars Rewards program. Our United Kingdom and Australia segments both performed in-line with our expectations during the fourth quarter, and we believe they are currently well-positioned to continue gaining market share in 2019,” said Mr. Ashkenazi.
“As we look at 2019 and beyond, we are excited to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us by leveraging our leading positions in attractive markets, strong brands, technology and operating expertise. We are pleased with our performance in the first two months of the year, underpinning our confidence in our financial guidance for 2019, and we are currently on track to deliver the full $70 million in cost synergies from the acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming within the current year alone, with potential opportunities for incremental synergies under review,” concluded Mr. Ashkenazi.
Revenue for the quarter and year increased primarily as a result of the contribution of revenue from Sky Betting & Gaming and BetEasy. Revenue for the year was also driven by growth in the International segment, primarily through the continued development of its real-money online casino and sports betting offerings.
Total revenue of $2.03bn (£1.54bn) for the year ending 31 December 2018, up from $1.31bn (£995.4m) in 2017.
Adjusted EBITDA also increased to 30 per cent to £780.9m (£592.9m) from $600.3m (£455.8m).
During the quarter, The Stars Group fully repaid the $100 million outstanding on its revolving credit facility, ending the year with approximately $393 million in operational cash and $5.45 billion in of debt on its balance sheet, resulting in Net Debt of $5.05 billion. In February 2019, The Stars Group continued to reduce its debt by prepaying $100 million on its first lien term loans using cash on its balance sheet.
At the end of December, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled in The Stars Group’s favor and reversed in its entirety the $870 million judgment issued against it by a trial court judge in December 2015 under a centuries old statute and relating to alleged losses by Kentucky residents who played real-money online poker on PokerStars’ website during a period between 2006 and 2011. The Supreme Court of Kentucky is currently considering whether to hear the Commonwealth’s appeal of the reversal.
In the second half of 2018, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision relating to sports betting, The Stars Group entered into various market access agreements with Mount Airy Casino and Eldorado Resorts, Inc. which, when combined with its existing market access deal in New Jersey with Resorts Casino Hotel, gives The Stars Group potential access to 13 states. The Stars Group also launched its BetStars online sports betting brand in New Jersey and became an authorized gaming operator of the NBA.