SAZKA Group has reported a robust opening to its 2021 trading, despite the Czech gambling conglomerate continuing to observe COVID-19 headwinds across its European market profile.
Publishing its Q1 trading results (period ending 31 March), SAZKA registered group gaming revenues (GGR) of €526 million, up 30% on corresponding 2020 results of €405 million.
The firm’s improved GGR performance was attributed to its Czech (+24%), Italian (+31%) and Austrian (+24%) lottery units registering ‘record sales during the period’.
Despite achieving a strong lottery sales growth, SAZKA’s performance continues to be dogged by national COVID-19 venue restrictions impairing the results of OPAP Greece and its Casinos Austria (CASAG) subsidiary.
In Greece, OPAP was forced to close the majority of its retail venues, observing government orders which resulted in SAZKA’s Greek unit recording a 47% drop in revenues to €174 million (Q12020: €328m).
Meanwhile, in Austria, SAZKA continues to operate with a limited portfolio as CASAG gaming outlets continue to remain under enforced lockdown orders.
However, withstanding its Greek retail frustrations, SAZKA underlined market positives, as OPAP’s newly integrated Stoiximan online gambling division recorded a 61% growth in revenues to €103 million, combined with EBITDA operating results of €28 million.
SAZKA stated that it would continue to operate OPAP and CASAG units on a tight cost control basis as it awaits critical government decisions on how leisure and hospitality venues will be reopened in the coming months.
Closing its Q1 accounts, SAZKA would report a consolidated EBITDA result of €144 million up 4% on 2020 results of €138 million, marked as a positive outcome as the gambling group absorbed intangible costs totalling €13 million.
During Q1 trading, SAZKA continued to strengthen its European expansion strategy, in which the company increased its shareholding in CASAG by 4.3%, securing a +60% shareholding in its Austrian subsidiary.
Meanwhile, the firm’s strategic options have been further improved by the completion of Apollo Global €500 million investment guarantee to help secure the Czech conglomerate’s M&A growth strategy across multiple European markets.
Robert Chvatal, Sazka Group CEO, commented: “I am pleased to report that Sazka Group delivered a robust performance in Q1. Our GGR increased by 30% year on year and our Adjusted EBITDA increased by 4% with a healthy margin of 51%.
“The first three months of 2021 have once again shown that we are well-positioned thanks to our diverse range of products, sales channels and geographical exposure, our rapidly expanding online business, our favourable cost structure, and the strong cash flow generation of our business.”
“Overall, I am very pleased with SAZKA Group’s continuing strong performance in Q1 2021. I look forward to a great year as our strong trading momentum persists, our impacted businesses in Greece and Austria return to normal conditions, and we continue to make progress on our strategic objectives.”