Ladbrokes owner Entain pulled its dividend despite a rise in annual profits, citing Covid-19 uncertainties.
The gambling firm posted an 11% rise in core earnings to £843.1m, driven by a 50% jump in online profit as punters turned to their computers after the shuttering of betting outlets during lockdowns and cancellation of major sports events.
Entain, which rejected an $11bn bid from MGM in January, said it expected online volumes to ease back when shops in its core online territories re-open.
The company swung to a pre-tax profit of £174.7m from a loss of £164.4m for the year to December 31. Revenue was flat at £3.56bn from £3.58bn.
It added that it expected trends seen during the pandemic to be positive for the global online gaming market, “and particularly for Entain’s brands, which we anticipate will more than cover any permanent channel loss from our retail estates in the UK and Europe”.
Entain said it had started the year with good momentum in line with expectations and hoped to see normality returning over the coming months.