MARKET REPORT: Bookies lose £ 2 billion as virus hits sporting events


More than £ 2 billion has been wiped out of the value of Britain’s biggest bookmakers as a wave of sporting events has been canceled or postponed in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Shares fell to record highs in some cases as traders worried about the amount of money gaming companies could bring in if there were fewer matches to bet on.

Last night the Miami Open tennis championship was canceled, the games of the National Basketball Association (NBA) of the United States were suspended until further notice, the Spanish Premier League, La Liga, had suspended all games for two weeks and McLaren withdrew from the Australian Grand Prix after a team member tested positive for the virus.

Shares of UK bookmakers have fallen to record highs in some cases, with traders worried about the amount of money gambling companies will be able to bring in if there are fewer matches to bet on

UEFA was also expected to suspend the Champions League and the Europa League – football’s main sources of money for bookmakers.

The emergency measures are increasing pressure on an industry that is already grappling with other crackdowns, such as cuts to the maximum amount bettors can bet on in-store gaming terminals.

Shares of Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment were beaten, falling 15.6%, or 1232p, to 6692p last night, making it one of the biggest drops on the FTSE 100.

Flutter made around three-quarters of its £ 2.1 billion turnover from sports betting last year.

William Hill hit an all-time low of 96.58 pence early in the session, but edged up to 92.28 pence at the close, down 24.3%, or 29.67 pence.

Inventory Monitoring – Intelligent Metering Systems

Energy services group Smart Metering Systems (SMS) has sold some of its meters to funds managed by infrastructure specialist Equitix Investment Management for £ 291million.

SMS will pocket around £ 282million after spending, which it will use to bolster its dividend.

It sold 187,000 smart meters used by industrial and commercial customers, leaving it 1.2 million household meters and an order book of an additional 2 million.

Shares jumped 22.8%, or 104.2p, to 561p.

Ladbrokes parent company GVC also lost nearly a fifth of its value, plunging 19.3%, or 125.4p, to 524.8p, ​​while online gaming group Playtech, which owns the Italian sports betting chain SNAI, fell 15%, or 31.3p, to 177.3p.

Turbulence in the gambling industry has been a symptom of intensifying turmoil in the rest of the market.

The FTSE 100 plunged 10.9%, or 639.04 points, to 5,237.48, after President Trump introduced a shock travel ban on planes arriving from the United States from Europe which will come into force today.

The FTSE 250 fell 9.4%, or 1,621.81 points, to 15,717.42, while on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 10% of its value.

Brokers are still digesting what the recent market turmoil will mean for individual firms, and many will be hesitant to make strict predictions while the trade is still volatile.

But UBS analysts said Just Eat Takeaway (down 10%, or 605p, to 5450p) and other delivery companies could experience a “near-term increase in demand” as the outbreak coronavirus has forced more people to stay at home.

However, the Swiss bank said a “prolonged disruption” could hurt the industry.

The AJ Bell trading platform was demoted to “sell” from “hold” as Berenberg’s brokers said it was likely more vulnerable than its peers to weaker stock markets. The company’s shares fell 12.7 percent, or 39.5 pence, to 271 pence.

Sales rose 3.2% at FTSE 250-listed ad group Wetherspoons in the six weeks leading up to March 8, according to an unscheduled brief business update it said was in response to “an unusually high number media and shareholder inquiries “.

The ad group said sales had been affected more by bad weather than by the coronavirus health crisis and that until yesterday it was not aware of any of its 43,000 employees who tested positive for the sickness.

But its stocks have always followed the rest of the index, down 12.4%, or 146p, to 1036p.

AIM-listed chemicals group Iofina fell 12.2%, or 2.38p, to 17.05 after announcing that Brexit millionaire Arron Banks had no plans to make an offer for society.

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