FL Entertainment is the new name for the combined business created via a merger with special-purpose acquisition company Pegasus Entrepreneurial Acquisition Company Europe, with the new-look business having gone public in July 2022.
The merger agreement covered all Betclic Everest subsidiaries, including Bet-at-home, and also featured television production business Banijay, which first merged with Betclic to create FL Entertainment before being combined with Pegasus.
Reflecting on the first six months of the combined business, FL Entertainment chief executive François Riahi paid tribute to the online sports betting and gaming segment saying revenue here was “very strong”, despite a high comparison base in 2021.
“2022 was an outstanding year for FL Entertainment,” Riahi said. “As a group, we delivered strong results in line with our guidance, demonstrated rapid progress against the strategy presented at our listing and strengthened our financial position.
“The overall number of unique active players increased by 25%, powered in part by our strong commercial performance during the football World Cup.
“Betclic has been the most downloaded sports betting app in our core markets of France, Poland and Portugal, and the second most downloaded across Europe, thanks to our state-of-the-art technology platform which leads the way in terms of reliability and efficiency.
“Looking ahead we will capitalise on increased player numbers to drive continued organic growth at a high pace.”
Sports betting and gaming
Focusing on the online sports betting and gaming business, revenue for the 12 months to 31 December amounted to €835m (£733m/$890m), an increase of 12.8% from €741m in the previous year.
This growth, FL Entertainment said, was driven by a strong fourth quarter with increased activity surrounding the 2022 Fifa World Cup, which was switched from its traditional summer date due to hot temperatures in host nation Qatar. The World Cup contributed 7.5% of Betclic Group’s annual sportsbook stakes and 31.0% in annual new sportsbook unique active players.
By division and including Bet-at-home, sportsbook revenue was up 13.8% in the full year to €670.1m, helped by a 25.0% rise in unique active players.
Online casino revenue edged up 2.7% to €104.8m helped by greater gamification and the roll-out of new exclusive games. Online poker revenue also increased 13.1% to €49.9m, partly due to cross-sell during the World Cup, while other revenue in this business was up 60.7% to €10.3m.
Growth came despite a tough year for the Bet-at-home business. In September, Bet-at-home warned of an increased risk that it may not have sufficient liquidity to meet financial obligations when due, after a financial year which was heavily impacted by its exit from Austria.
The warning came in the context of a significant winding down of the company’s activities in other regions, most notably Austria.
In October 2021, the business lost a legal battle against a consortium of players in Austria seeking compensation from unlicensed operators. Following this, Bet-at-home announced it would exit the market and also wind down the Maltese company set up to target it.
In July 2022, Bet-at-home “surrendered” its British licence and said it would permanently withdraw from the market. This followed the operator’s licence suspension by the Gambling Commission for suspected anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings.
Taking a look at the wider FL Entertainment business, also including the content production and distribution arm, revenue in 2022 increased 15.7% to €4.05bn. Content production and distribution revenue for the year was 16.5% higher at €3.21bn.
Spending increased in a number of areas, leaving a pre-tax loss for the group of €4.2m, but this was an improvement on €24.2m in 2021. FL Entertainment paid €76.9m in income tax, meaning a net loss of €81.1m, compared to €73.4m in the previous year.
However, FL Entertainment noted that when excluding certain costs, namely €127.4m in restructuring costs and €147.5m in long-term incentive plan and employment-related earn-out and option expenses – and also including €112.9m in other financial income – this left a net profit of €306.7m, up 8.5% year-on-year.
“FL Entertainment’s first yearly results are a testimony to the strength of our business model,” Riahi said. “We are well positioned to reinforce our leading positions in our structurally growing markets in 2023 and continue to demonstrate our proven ability to delivery profitable growth at scale.”