Holland Casino targets online gains after €64.8m loss in H1

| By Richard Mulligan
Holland Casino is banking on online growth via a Dutch licence from next month after announcing a loss of more than €60m during the first half of 2021.

The gaming group, which operates 14 casinos in the Netherlands, said revenue for the six months to 30 June was just €28.8m. The locations were only able to open for the final few weeks of the period, having been closed until 5 June due to novel coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions. Limits on guests allowed at the casinos remain three months later.

Holland Casino said its net result for tax purposes amounted to a loss of €64.8m, compared to a loss of €37.8m over the same period in 2020, when casinos were open for several months. The negative result includes the government support from the Noodmaatregel Overbrugging voor Werkbehoud (NOW) scheme, similar to the UK’s furlough scheme.

Chief financial officer Ruud Bergervoet said the group has been assisted by “the constructive NOW scheme, the deferral of tax payments, strict cost control measures and tight operational management”.

It did not set out operational costs in its results statement for H1 2021, although it announced a restructuring plan that included a 10% reduction in headcount at the end of 2020.

“The turnover achieved in June shows that Holland Casino will soon be able to operate in a healthy manner,” Holland Casino said. “Thanks to the completed necessary restructuring, everyone is also in the right place in a more efficient and agile organisation.”

Looking ahead, the group said it expects that its casinos will be able to return to being fully operational during the autumn. This includes the end of curfews which mean bars and restaurants must close at midnight.

It hopes to obtain an online gaming licence ahead of the launch of the regulated market from 1 October – the 45th anniversary of the group’s founding.

Chief executive Erwin van Lambaart said: “Although corona has also hit our company head-on in the first half of 2021, our anniversary year in which have been in business for 45 years, we still look ahead with confidence.

“All in all, the Netherlands was deprived of legal casino offer for almost a year, but now that the corona measures are disappearing little by little in the Netherlands, recovery is in sight. We see that the resilience and dedication of our people, the general support measures from the government and a clear strategic investment vision for our future make us strong.

“We see bright spots in the potential offer of online games of chance as of 1 October next for which we have applied for a licence and the opening of our new world-class casino branches in Venlo and Utrecht.”

In H1 2020, Holland Casino’s turnover for the first half of the year fell 58.7%, to €146.3m, after its 14 venues were closed for almost five months due to the pandemic.

Earlier today, it was announced that operators illegally offering gambling in the Netherlands will be fined at least 4% of their turnover in the Dutch market.

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