Ladbrokes Coral owner forecasts £50m earnings boost after Covid online betting surge

Sports fans sitting at home are more likely to place bets than if they were at a stadium.

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GVC Holdings, the owner of bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral, has upgraded its full-year earnings forecast by around £50m ahead of its original expectations, in part due to a rise in online betting over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company's net online betting revenue rose by 26 per cent in the third quarter of the year, according to a trading statement released earlier this week. It means that GVC now expects to make between £770m and £790m for 2020. Shares went up 7 per cent following the news.

While sports fixtures in the UK have largely returned, they have done so without fans in stadiums because of the need to maintain social distancing measures.

The packed football schedule, in particular, has seen more matches than ever televised as a result, and experts believe that with more people watching from home, rather than in grounds, they will be more likely to place bets online, either via a mobile app or on a computer.

In September, research carried out on behalf of the charity GambleAware by the Football Supporters’ Association found that fans who like to bet “in-play”, that is on live events as they are happening, are 83 per cent more likely to place a bet from home than if they were watching in a stadium.

The survey found that 73 per cent of respondents would be more likely to gamble from home, in general, because it was more convenient than visiting a bookmaker shop in-person; while 36 per cent admitted that not being able to attend games could lead to them “betting bored”.

According to a survey by Ipsos, meanwhile, 27 per cent of respondents were betting more in June than they were before lockdown

As part of its “Bet Regret” campaign, GambleAware is urging bookmakers to manage their online products more closely. Among the recommended measures are greater limits on cash deposits, enforced cool-off periods for people betting too frequently, and nudge notifications that call out unusual betting behaviour, such as placing bets on markets a person in the UK is unlikely to have a good knowledge of.

Rohan Banerjee is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman

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