Gaming giant Ladbrokes Coral has painted a rosy view of the prospects for its Australian business brushing off concerns about looming new taxes.
In an earnings call with analysts late in March the company’s chief executive James Mullen was extremely positive when reflecting on the performance of the Northern Territory-based Australian division.
“In Australia, we continue to knock it out of the park, staking up 68 per cent, with net revenue up 67 per cent,” he said.
The company has hotly opposed a South Australia proposal to tax betting at the “point of consumption” rather than the location of the betting agency. Online bookies have based themselves in the Northern Territory to avoid state-based taxes.
Asked specifically about the prospect of this regulation, Mr Mullen was upbeat having visited the country in February to appoint Jason Scott as Ladbrokes Australia’s new chief executive.
“Well, not long back from Australia, we just spent a little over a week over there with the new management team,” he said.
“With regard to the strategy for Australia, I mean, frankly, we’ve been delighted with the growth rates that we have there. We didn’t see as an executive any reason to change that. Now we might get to a point if we are seeing a slowdown in that growth in rates that we may decide to change the approach. But we decided that, that wasn’t the case at the moment.”
Mr Mullen said so far only South Australia had announced a tax with implementation slated for July but noted that it could spread to other jurisdictions.
“If that happens, we’ll deal with it. We have some mitigating plans in place to address that, but we’re just waiting for the regulators to see if we have some more information,” he said.
His comments were made a couple of days after a meeting of state and federal treasurers in March which agreed to consider a national approach to a POCT with a report due back at the next such meeting
Announcing Mr Scott’s appointment Mr Mullen said: “His task is simple, keep the momentum in the business and keep the brand as fresh and as customer-focused as it always has been.”
John Bowtell, the company’s chief financial officer, noted that Sportsbook made up ??310 million of the company’s net revenue in the year to December. That represented growth of 51 per cent on the previous year with Britain up 44 per cent and Australia up 67 per cent. No dollar figure was released with the company results.
Ladbrokes was approached for comment.
Responsible Wagering Australia, a lobby group representing the industry but which Ladbrokes has not joined, said an end to state based laws would be a welcome development.