Cheltenham festival a winner for Flutter with €275m in bets placed

Paddy Power owner reports revenue growth of 32 per cent to €1.7 billion in first quarter

Horse-racing fans bet €275 million with Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment's businesses during last month's Cheltenham festival, the group said on Thursday.

The Irish gambling giant reported that revenues grew 32 per cent to £1.485 million sterling (€1.7 billion) in the first three months of the year.

Jonathan Hill, chief financial officer, said punters had bet £240 million (€275 million) with its companies Paddy Power, Betfair and Sky Bet during the Cheltenham national hunt festival last month.

Paddy Power's betting app was the most downloaded during the event, Flutter said. Mr Hill joked that this made it a "truly Irish festival", drawing on the fact that 23 of the 28 winners over meeting's four days were trained in Ireland.


The group estimated that its bookmakers accounted for 56 per cent of all bets placed during the festival, which is a key recruitment ground for online gambling companies.

Ireland and Britain online revenues, including Paddy Power, Betfair and Fox, increased 35 per cent to £568 million during the first quarter.

Covid-19 restrictions kept Flutter’s Paddy Power bookmaker shops closed in the Republic and the UK during the quarter. They generated £71 million in revenues during the first three months of 2020.

UK outlets reopened this month. The group says it has continued to pay betting shop staff in both jurisdictions.

US business

Flutter is continuing to consider floating a "small shareholding" in its US sports-betting business FanDuel on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mr Hill would not comment on when the group is likely to decide on this. However, he indicated that it could reinvest any cash from a flotation in developing sports betting in the US, where it is the market leader.

“It would give us the opportunity to continue to drive market share and growth in that business,” he added.

He pointed out that FanDuel’s main rival, DraftKings, had $2.5 billion to $3 billion cash available to it.

Mr Hill said that Flutter could also use any flotation proceeds to pay for further mergers and acquisitions.

Fox this month filed an arbitration claim against Flutter saying that it has the right to buy an 18.6 per cent stake in FanDuel that values the Irish group’s US subsidiary at $11.2 billion (€9.2 billion), rather than at its potentially higher market worth

The dispute dates back to an agreement the pair struck when Flutter announced its merger with the Stars Group in late 2019. The Irish company says the Fox claim is without merit.

Meanwhile, Mr Hill argued that a $870 million ruling by the Kentucky supreme court against Oldford, part of the Stars Group, which merged with Flutter last year, may not be enforceable, as the companies involved are based in the Isle of Man.

Flutter intends challenging the finding in the US supreme court, but Mr Hill agreed that it could be difficult for the group to get the case heard in that forum.

The litigation dates back to 2011, before the Flutter-Stars Group merger. Mr Hill said that getting it overturned in the US supreme court would be the “optimal result”, but pointed out that the ruling would in any case be unenforceable under Isle of Man laws.

US revenues increased 135 per cent to £288 million from £132 million. Flutter said that this business continued to expand rapidly.

In Australia, where Flutter owns Sportsbet, revenues rose 59 per cent to £279 million from £161 million.

Revenues from the group's international business, which includes Adjarabet in Georgia, grew 7 per cent to £351 million.

Peter Jackson, Flutter chief executive, said the group was "off to a strong start".

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas