By Radhika Anilkumar
(Reuters) -British betting group Entain said it would buy Croatia's SuperSport Group for 600 million pounds ($731 million) in cash on Thursday after the owner of Ladbrokes, Coral and bwin reported a 20% increase in half-year profit.
Although Entain's online net gaming revenue fell 7% in the six months to June 30, shares in the FTSE 100 firm were nearly 3% higher at 0751 GMT as it resumed dividends, saying it would pay out 100 million pounds in total for the year.
Gambling firms which gained during the COVID-19 pandemic as punters went online now face pressure as some customers reduce non-essential spending due to rising fuel and food costs.
"In Q2, we also saw our increasingly recreational customer base responding to the changing macro environment and inflationary fears by moderating spend per head across the UK and parts of Europe," Entain, which also owns the partypoker online brand, said in a statement.
"We expect to get back to growth in online in the second half of the year", Entain's Chief Financial Officer Rob Wood later told Reuters in an interview.
Previously known as GVC Holdings, Entain said it was on track to deliver 2022 revenue of more than $1.3 billion at BetMGM, its U.S. joint venture with MGM Resorts. BetMGM is expected to turn profitable in 2023.
"Once BetMGM becomes profitable, and that appears to be coming closer, the value of Entain overall will become clearer", analysts at Peel Hunt said in a note.
Entain said that it was buying SuperSport, its fifth acqusition this year, through a new venture in Central and Eastern Europe, in which it will own a 75% stake.
London-listed Entain's interim underlying operating profit was 246.5 million pounds, up 20% from the same period in 2021.
($1 = 0.8207 pounds)
(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Sriraj Kalluvila and Alexander Smith)