Ladbrokes have called for ‘proper enforcement’ of the point of consumption (POC) licensing of online gaming when it is introduced in the UK later this year. The firm estimate that the new tax, despite being planned for December this year, will hit their 2014 revenues by £2m and they want to see some benefit for this expense.
They said: “How the tax impacts the wider market is as yet unclear. A poorly enforced tax will be little deterrent to some operators outside of the UK acting illegally and will create an uncompetitive environment for established UK operators. Proper enforcement should negate such movement as the threat of prosecution, IP blocking and transaction blocking would drive some of the market to more established players and we would be confident that our offer and brand would prove an attractive proposition.”
2013 was a disastrous year for Ladbrokes’ Digital division, on the balance sheet at least, with a 74.2% drop in operating profit to £8.2m. However there were big changes for the division in that time with a switch in casino supplier to Playtech, the relaunch of the sportsbook and the acquisitions and integrations of betting exchange Betdaq and a couple of Australian brands.
Ladbrokes have warned that any upside to these deals will not really happen until the second half of the year. They said: “During H1 of 2014, we do not expect much growth as we transition all remaining gaming products from our existing supplier over to Playtech. Once complete this will allow the introduction of a new single back office system, IMS, for both gaming and sportsbook and the delivery of a single betting wallet for customers again to be delivered in H1 2014. These improvements are fundamental to enhanced CRM, the remaining key deliverable in enabling us to compete strongly and grow during H2 of 2014.”
As chief executive Richard Glynn commented: “As we have made clear, H1 is about delivery and H2 is about growth. Our immediate focus is on the completion of our remaining platform, product and capability upgrades, notably single wallet and CRM, which will begin to deliver tangible benefits from the World Cup onwards.”