888 Holdings' finance boss to leave amid a slowdown in online gambling

This Is Money
888 Holdings' finance boss to leave amid a slowdown in online gambling

888 Holdings revenues slip in gambling slowdown as William Hill owner's finance boss reveals exit

Depature: Yariv Dafna (pictured) will leave as chief financial officer of 888 Holdings at the end of March

Gambling group 888 Holdings has revealed a slowdown in demand over the past year, as loosening Covid-19 restrictions meant many customers returned to betting shops.

Retail revenues jumped by 54 per cent to £519million last year, but this was offset by a 15 per cent decline in digital sales, resulting in total turnover falling by £57million to £1.85million.

In addition to a deterioration in trade, the William Hill owner told investors on Friday that its chief financial officer Yariv Dafna will leave at the end of March after just two-and-a-half years in the role. 

Dafna is credited for overseeing a period of profound change at the Gibraltar-based business. 

888's online trade has also been impacted by the decision to temporarily shut its Netherlands operations ahead of new licensing changes and new player safety measures introduced in the UK.

Since October, online gambling advertisements in Britain must not be of 'strong' appeal to under-18s, meaning they cannot contain imagery, themes and characters widely recognised by children.

The new regulations contributed to the group's revenues sliding by 3 per cent in the final three months of 2022, despite a boost from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Nonetheless, the company told investors that its annual sales and adjusted underlying earnings are set to align with guidance, with the latter coming in at £305million to £315million.

888 Holdings shares were 5.4 per cent lower at 88.45p just before midday on Friday, making it the second-biggest faller on the FTSE 350 Index. 

Outgoing CFO Dafna, who replaced Aviad Kobrine after 15 years in the role, joined the firm during a pandemic-induced boom in online gambling as betting shops  closed across the world.

During his tenure, 888 completed the landmark acquisition of William Hill from casino operator Caesars Entertainment, marking its first entry into the retail sports betting market.

Dafna later negotiated a successful refinancing of the company's external debt that it built up to fund the £2billion takeover, which also included buying digital gaming brands Redbet and Mr Green.

888 took further advantage of the legalisation of sports gambling across many US states to forge a partnership with Sports Illustrated owner Authentic Brands Group focused on betting and gaming products aimed at American customers.

Prior to his appointment, the Israeli had spent a long stint at the Internet of Things products business Telit, where he rose through the ranks to become its finance director.

No explanation was given by 888's board for his departure.

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