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Jacketpotjoy owner JPJ Group gains in Spain

Profits dropped at JackpotJoy, the group’s main brand

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Online casino brand Vera&John did well

Tighter regulation and intense competition for punters offset good revenue growth at online gaming group JPJ Group PLC (LON:JPJ) in its latest half-year.

Profits dropped at JackpotJoy, the group’s main brand, thanks to a combination of higher customer acquisition costs and point of consumption taxes. Other brands notably Botemania (online bingo) in Spain and Starpins (online casino) did better, while half-year revenues through its own platform - Vera&John and InterCasino - grew by 37%.

Underlying profits [adjusted EBITDA] dropped 4% to £56.9mln in the half year to June, while revenues rose by 10% to £161mln. Debt dropped to £362.9mln or gearing ratio of 3.41 times assets.

Once that ratio drops to 2.5 times, JPJ will look at returning cash to shareholders it said.

Neil Goulden, executive chairman, added average active customers per month rose 7% driven by growth globally especially at Botemania in Spain.

Underlying profits should grow in the second half said Goulden, following the end of a TV advertising campaigns and as last year’s rise in UK gaming taxes washes through.

The group today also sold its social gaming operation for £18.1mln.

Shares eased 3% to 985p.

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