© Reuters.

By Pushkala Aripaka

(Reuters) -British online betting firm 888 on Wednesday signalled that a reopening of outdoor venues after coronavirus lockdowns was hurting daily revenues in the country, as people spend less time indoors and online.

Shares in the London-listed firm fell as much as 5% to 392 pence in morning trading as investors looked past news that 888 now expects annual profit to be “slightly ahead” of last year and focused instead on a recent dip in revenues in the United Kingdom.

Since May 17, when British retail and leisure spaces reopened to customers, 888’s average daily revenues in the UK – its single largest market – had been around 20% lower than revenues earlier in 2021.

888 also said Poker and Bingo revenues fell year-over-year in the quarter ended June 30.

Overall, its June-quarter revenue jumped 10% to $257 million at constant currency rates.

“The strong momentum from the first quarter of 2021 continued into the second quarter, albeit with the year-on-year growth rate moderating in light of stronger comparables from the prior year,” 888 Chief Executive Itai Pazner said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a plan to end COVID restrictions on July 19, which could further hurt the online betting industry as people go outdoors and screen-time dips.

Still, the easing of pandemic-related restrictions has also brought back sporting events, a positive for 888 and rivals such as Entain and Rank Group.

888 is investing more in developing its betting platforms and on marketing to woo more customers. It partnered last month with Sports Illustrated to support its U.S. expansion.

888 had performed well in a “potentially tricky” quarter, Peel Hunt analysts said, adding they were confident that the company would benefit from its overseas expansion plans.

888 is set to report interim results on Sept. 1.

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