Half Year 2019 888 Holdings PLC Earnings Presentation
London Oct 8, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of 888 Holdings PLC earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at 9:00:00am GMT
TEXT version of Transcript
* Aviad Kobrine
888 Holdings plc - CFO & Director
* Itai Pazner
888 Holdings plc - CEO & Director
Itai Pazner, 888 Holdings plc - CEO & Director 
Okay. Good morning, everyone. We're very happy to be here today and report what we feel is a solid set of results for the first half of the year. And during the past year, there were various challenges and opportunities for us and the industry in general. And I'm very happy to say that we feel that we made extremely good progress on many of our strategic initiatives and directions, some of them or most of them that we showed in our Capital Markets Day a few months ago.
So first and foremost is the U.K., which has returned to a healthy growth pattern with good performance. We're outperforming the market in specific impressive results in Casino and Sports verticals, which we see as key growth engines for our group going forward. We have continued diversification into new regulated markets, including Sweden and Portugal. And we are continuing to expand market share in existing markets such as Italy, Spain, Romania, Denmark and New Jersey.
In the U.S., we've made a significant progress in terms of our product offering. We recently launched Orbit in New Jersey and we're working on plans to expand into further markets in the U.S.
We're progressing on schedule with all of the PMIs of the acquisitions that we made last year, specifically BetBright Sport and Costa Bingo, and we ate now feel further confident about further potential M&A opportunities that we see ahead of us.
We have many product enhancements in place in all of the verticals, and we are continuing to position ourselves as a leading and modern tech provider, with excellent customer experiencing, focusing on more of the recreational products and consumer segments.
I'll now hand over to Aviad to share some of the financial highlights of the first half.
Aviad Kobrine, 888 Holdings plc - CFO & Director 
Thank you Itai. So just going through the highlights before diving into and giving you a bit more color into each one of them. So revenue increased 7% on a like-for-like basis. This has been driven by the U.K. turnaround and further progress in regulated markets.
Revenue increase was led by Casino and Sport, 14% and 28%, respectively, at constant currency. This represents a fourth consecutive quarter of revenue growth in the U.K. H1, 2019 Casino and Sport revenue increased each 40% reported and 50% at constant currency.
Regulated and taxed market reached a record 74% of group revenue. The marketing ratio remained stable at 30%, although we recruited 20% more FTDs. That was led by Casino with up 49% increase in FTDs; and in the U.K., up 74% in the Casino. So that reflects CPA efficiencies and this is a leading indicator for momentum in the business.
Adjusted EBITDA margin compressed to 15%, predominantly because of additional gaming duties, which I will break down in a minute, and FX. So EBITDA ended up $42 million for H1, which represents $45 million at constant currency. This is before the positive impact of IFRS 16, which I will quantify in a second.
We've declared interim dividend of $0.03 per share, which reflects our positive optimism about the future of the business, balancing acquisitions and investment opportunities in the business. And adjusted basic EPS was 6.7% (sic - see slide 6, $0.067).
On the next slide, you can see a condensed version of our P&L. The first point to remember is that this is the first year that we have adopted IFRS 16, which required us to capitalize operating leases in our business; predominantly these mean our offices in our various locations.
But in order to present the like-for-like numbers to last year which did not have IFRS 16 represent these numbers before, just to give you an idea, IFRS 16 adds about $3 million to the EBITDA. So the statutory EBIDTA would be $45 million instead of the $42 million that you see here.
I just wanted to mention one point on the P&L that we have recognized higher amortization costs of $12.5 million. This is predominantly as a result of amortizing the acquired customer list of the Costa acquisition from earlier this year.
On the next slide, you can see again the composition of our revenue. So group revenue reported was 2%, like-for-like up 7%. As I mentioned, Casino, Sport and newer markets and healthy acquisition in the U.K. were driving this growth. B2B was impacted by a structural change in the business.
We have transferred the AAPN business, which used to be a B2B business, we are now consolidating it into the B2C. So that was stripped away from B2B. The same from Costa Bingo. This used to be a B2B partner, and that was stripped away and now is recorded as part of B2C.
And the remainder of some of the weakness is in our Globalcom bingo network. This is predominantly large, smaller of skins of Bingo in the U.K. They were impacted by higher point of consumption tax in the U.K., increased from 15% to 21%. In order to protect margins, some of them cut marketing cost. And as a result, our royalties were -- suffered as well.
So about half of the decline is because of the structural change plus the migration with FoxyBingo at the end of the last year and about half is the Globalcom bingo network impact.
On the next slide, you can see the historical deposit trend. We can see the continued growth both in deposit trends, but importantly the share of regulated markets increased. The U.K. recovery and Italy and additional regulated markets of Sweden are driving the increases. And may I say that the current trading, post- the H1, certainly continued the same trend with double-digit growth in deposit trends.
On our next slide, you could see our engine or a like-for-like comparison. So we have definitely seen strong performance in our key growth engines, Casino and Sport. Overall B2C, new customer acquisitions up 20% and I'll give you some more details in a second. Casino new customer acquisitions up 49% and active customers up 30%.
On the chart, you can see that B2C was reported revenue up 6%, which translates on a like-for-like basis to up 9%; and the Casino up 9%, and 14% like-for-like; and the Sport reported 18% (sic - see slide 9, "19%"), and up 28% on a like-for-like basis.
And on the next slide, on the right-hand side, you can see the increase in customer -- new customer acquisition. So Sport increased 13%, B2C overall 20%, Bingo B2C up 33%, and Casino up 49%. The only segment at acquisition that was actually weaker is Poker with 15%.
On the next slide, I want to spend a few minutes about the U.K. turnaround, which has been a strong success for us. First of all, we have recorded the fourth consecutive quarter of sequential growth. At the Capital Markets Day, we showed you in June the left-hand slide without the last quarter. So we have now added the second quarter, which increased a further 15% on the second quarter. So the growth in the U.K. continues. U.K. Casino first-time depositors is up 74%. It's driven by Orbit launch in May. And overall B2C U.K. customer acquisition is up 30%.
Overall, U.K. was up 13%, but it is up 23% on a like-for-like basis. And if you read today's statement about current trading, actually the U.K. is up 24% and that is on a reported basis. At constant currency, it is higher than that.
Geographical segmentation, as I mentioned before, locally regulated markets now represent 63% of business, and regulated and taxed 74%. The U.K. is the largest market with 35%. Spain remained the same percentage as 12%, our second-largest market as last year. Italy with rapid growth increased from 8% to 9%, and the rest are much smaller markets for us.
Moving on, few words about the revenue of the Casino B2C. We mentioned it's up 9% to $175 million and 14% at constant currency. Casino FTDs up 49%, and actives up 30%. So you can see that is also indirect indication of the shift towards recreational customers that Itai will mention in a few minutes.
On the next slide, you can see the Sport B2C. We continued the trajectory of 42% CAGR since H1 2008. So Sport revenues increased 28% in constant currency. Higher new customer acquisitions, despite the tough comparatives of World Cup last year; and ARPU was up actually 19%. And following the end of H1, we launched a new front-end to the Sport which Itai will elaborate a bit later.
And on the next slide, you just can see the increase both in absolute terms and in constant currency terms.
Poker business, the revenue of the Poker went down 24%. However, encouragingly, if you look at the revenue compared to H2 last year, so a sequential revenue growth; H1 this year is up 26% on H2 last year, which gives us optimism that we see a stabilization in the Poker business.
If you actually look at the total amount of money deposited by poker players, including their cross-selling to other products, the decline was only 4%. And may I remind you all that we do not adjust constant currency in the Poker because the result is unreliable. There's no doubt there has been an impact to our poker business from the strength of the dollar but it is not quantified here.
Poker revenue in Italy went up 36% (sic - see slide 17, "38%"). And the recently launched shared liquidity of poker between Spain and Portugal, which Itai mentioned, is certainly showing good signs, positive signs.
On the Bingo side, so revenue went up 10% to $19 million. It represents 17% increase at constant currency given the weakness of the pound. This is actually 3% down on a pro forma once you strip out the acquisition of the Costa Bingo brands at constant currency. Revenue was up 9% sequentially H1 this year on H2 last year. And new customer acquisitions went up 33% for the enlarged business and 20% on a pro forma basis, without Costa.
Overall marketing cost, so we mentioned earlier a 20% increase in first-time deposits overall, which is led by Casino. Marketing cost in regulated markets increased 4% and the ratio remained stable at 30%. And I expect this to remain fairly similar for the rest of the year.
On the cost structure, clearly you've seen that our margins have been impacted predominantly by gaming duties. Gaming duties ratio increased quite considerably. I will break down this in 1 minute. We also had a temporary increase in admin costs. This is a result of legal costs relating to the 3 M&A transactions that we did.
But also in relation to the Brexit mitigation -- as part of the Brexit mitigation, we migrated some of our Gibraltar operating companies into Malta and we obtained Maltese licenses. We use these licenses to operate in Continental Europe. We also established a server farm in Dublin. So some of these costs inflated the admin costs. But these are one-off in nature, and admin costs should revert to normality in H2 and beyond.
On the next slide, we have become a fairly important tax collection machine. So over the period, we have paid $7 million more gaming duties than the comparative period last year. So it was $37.8 million last year; it's almost $45 million this half. This was driven predominantly of almost additional $6 million in the U.K. Now the increase in the U.K. is driven both by an increase in tax but also by the expansion in our business compared to last year.
There's been tax increases in Italy of 5% from 25% to 30% in H2 last year. Again, it's a growth market for us so we pay more taxes. There's been more taxes also in Romania and Sweden. This was partly offset by $3.7 million lower taxes in Spain. So although our business expanded in Spain, the tax rate was cut from 25% to 20%.
So all of this translate to the EBITDA and EBITDA margin. I mentioned $42 million of reported EBITDA before IFRS 16. It's $45 million at constant currency. That reflects $1 million of U.S. B2C losses in the period. And with IFRS 16, the number is another $3 million.
On the last 2 slides, I will spend a few words about the balance sheet. There are a few items here in the balance sheet which you are not familiar with. I will turn through these very quickly. So first of all, we largely remain unlevered with significant debt capacity. You can see $26.1 million of right-of-use assets. This is the impact of IFRS 16 capitalizing our operating leases, basically our offices, we don't have any retail premises.
The slight increase in fixed assets, this is partly related to the Dublin data center, which I mentioned before, part of the Brexit preparation. We have $21.6 million of interest-bearing loans. That again is relating to IFRS 16, which require us to report or to reflect the future lease payments of our leases. And you have $37.6 million loans and borrowings. That includes $5 million of IFRS 16 lease payments of the current year, but in addition, $33 million of drawn RCF from our good bankers at Barclays.
And the final thing is here that you can see that the net corporate cash after deducting the bank borrowing is $21 million as of 30 June.
On the cash flow, I will just say a few sentences. Basically, we have spent $53 million in H1 on M&A acquisitions. This was partly financed by $33 million of RCF. And we also paid a final 2018 dividend of $29 million.
And I will now hand you over to Itai that will give you a lot more color about our progress.
Itai Pazner, 888 Holdings plc - CEO & Director 
Okay. Thank you, Aviad. Yes, so I'd like to share and give you some color on what we've been busy with in the last 6 months and how we made progress in many of our strategic directions.
I'll start with the U.K. turnaround, which I think is the most impressive achievement in the first half of the year. And this is done without compromising in any way our responsible gaming. We're growing double-digit in the market and this is a result of a 360 approach combining our R&D, our product development, marketing capability, responsible gaming and compliance tools that we built. And we feel that we are ahead of the curve, and the U.K. has returned to a double-digit growth market for us.
I'm reminding that the U.K. is the biggest online gaming market globally, is the most competitive online gaming market globally with over 500 license operators. And I think achieving these kinds of levels of growth in this competitive and challenged market by regulation and compliance is a significant achievement.
This is done -- was done through our investment in the Orbit, a new Casino platform; and 888sport, a new front-end that we launched actually quite recently. We're seeing a positive momentum in the market and we're very encouraged to invest even further in the market and taking on more market share.
We're focused on the recreational and mass market segments, and managing to drive growth while reducing our dependencies on VIP segments, and making a significant progress in our responsible gaming approach and our organizational culture around this area.
We've developed -- we feel that we developed an efficient machine that's led by technology, working methodology of responsible gaming, which we plan to roll out into other markets which are developing in a similar way to the U.K. in Europe and in the U.S. Growing our U.K. market share remains key, while we continue our revenue diversification effort and growing into other markets in parallel.
I'm going to speak a bit about Casino, and we are continuing to pursue our ambition to become the world's leading online Casino brand globally. Orbit, which is our new casino platform which we launched last May, has been rolled out completely in all of our markets now. The latest markets that we rolled out were New Jersey and Romania. And we continue to see what we call the Orbit effect in each and every market that we launch in, which is a significant impact on all the KPIs: if it's FTDs, if it's activity of players, if it's amount of the games that they try.
We're seeing very positive responses to this product. And we're infusing the platform with hundreds of new game titles. These are titles from leading global and local third-party providers, which we are currently looking for, finding and integrating them into the platform.
In addition, we have Section8, which is our internal studio that's been developing games for over 2 decades now and has been introducing several blockbuster games in the last year. And it's the biggest vendor on the platform by choice of our customers, when competing against all the global leading game providers. So that shows the quality of the games that we know how to develop in-house.
And 3 to 4 out of our top 10 games are Studio 8 games. This contributes not only to our margins -- because they're developed in-house, we don't have to pay a revenue share for these games -- but it also gives us a unique offering and games that can only be found on our platform. These games are now delivered by customer personal preferences through our in-house developed AI algorithms and recommendations engines that are embedded and are an integral part of Orbit experience.
We just saw an interesting deal in the marketplace. I don't know if you guys saw Red Tiger was bought last week, valuating the company at over GBP 200 million. I think -- which shows the value of a strong games studio. We obviously have -- I'm not exactly comparing between the 2, but I can say that we have a very strong game studio with over 100 titles that we developed that share a big share of our slot games and are very much appreciated and admired by our customers. And I think that shows the kind of value that we know how to create in-house, developing our own technology.
And we're now working on the next phase of Orbit. So Orbit like I said had a significant impact. We made a big investment to it, but that's just the first phase of Orbit. The next version of Orbit will include further gamification features, focus on more real-time events and personalized communications, relevant communications with the right players at the right time.
I'm moving on to Sports, and we're seeing very encouraging growth trends in Sports, 28%; and 50% in the U.K. overall. And as we mentioned in the Capital Markets Day, we're aiming to become a top-tier sports operator, with revenue in excess of $200 million. This year, we're reaching close to $100 million. But we have many plans ahead of us that I'm going to share, which I think can bring us to a top-tier position in sports.
Our new proprietary 888sport front-end, which was recently launched in the market. Actually, this happened during the beginning of the second half of the year, enhanced -- offering enhanced UX, faster performance of the product, a unified approach showing -- that's showing positive indications in the markets it's been rolled out to. I advise you guys to try and see the new front-end, it really is a slick and fun front-end product.
We also launched a new game called Up For 8, it's a predictor game. It was launched in parallel in conjunction with the beginning of premiership. And we see a very high level of participation with over 50% of our active customers participating in this game in the last weekend. This is just another engagement tool, another what we call recreational fun feature that we added. And we added it, again, over our new front-end product and it's been performing very well.
Integration of the BetBright platform, which we brought earlier this year, is going on track. And the first market, which is 888sport in Sweden, is planned to be launched early next year, followed by further markets rollout during 2020 and 2021. And Dublin, which is the home of BetBright is becoming a central R&D and product center with expertise, with knowledge.
And we see the PMI progressing very well. We're very happy with a strong talent pool that we have acquired in this deal, and it's working very well with our core teams both in Israel and Romania to bring in the best sports product back into the market.
888sport is continuing to serve as what we call the cross-market, cross-product, cross-sell into Casino growth engine for the group. It's enjoying double-digit growth in almost all markets that it's active in. And we're warming up towards Euro 2020, which surprisingly the U.K. is now ranked second to win Euro. And hopefully this time we'll see ourselves in the finals, but time will tell.
Expansion into new regulated markets. So again regulated markets in Europe is something that we've been discussing for several years now. It's a key goal for the group. It's an area that we have been, I think, relatively successful in, in the last few years; and to not only succeeding in the U.K. in one core market, but managing to roll out into further markets and show our ability to diversify.
The first example is Italy, where we continue to see growth trends in H1, despite a partial marketing ban that I think you guys heard about in the market. We're managing to grow double-digit in Italy, 28% if I'm not mistaken. And I think this is due to our digital marketing proficiency, our product projects that we launch in the market, including Orbit, again including recently the new Sport front-end. And overall, we're seeing very encouraging results in that top European market.
Spain, we're a leading operator. We're one of the leading operators in the market, by market share. The market is growing a bit more moderately than in the past; around 7% on a like-for-like basis, but it's still our second biggest market after the U.K. and one of the biggest markets in Europe.
And we've recently launched a Portugal Poker and Casino actually, but Portugal Poker is supporting the Spanish Poker because it's a first launch that we did over the EU shared Poker network, and that's showing a positive result not only in Portugal but also in the Spanish poker liquidity. It was received extremely well by our customers, and it's a first example of the shared liquidity network in Europe and we're looking to add further markets to that.
Sweden, we also launched at the beginning of this year just as the market opened. And unlike some of the other news that has been coming out of that market, we're actually seeing very good results out of the market. Our acquisition numbers have been significantly higher than before regulation. And those acquisitions, I'm speaking hundreds of percent growth compared to before regulation. And those revenues are -- those FTDs are slowly but surely turning into revenue.
And coming ahead of us, there are 2 other markets that we're looking to launch. Netherlands, that's coming in 2021, which is another arguably top 5 European market that we think we can be very successful in. And we're looking to relaunch Poker in France and add that to shared liquidity pool that we have with Portugal and Spain. And we think that will also have a further positive impact on Poker in general, and Poker shared liquidity network in Europe and specific.
So if we're speaking about Poker, I'm moving on to Poker category. We're still very much believers in this category. We know it has suffered in the past few years. Our aim is to remain a top 3 operator through our investment both in product enhancement, in marketing and in sharing more Poker liquidity pools. Now we're seeing -- after a challenging 2018, we're seeing stabilization as Aviad showed you, 26% increase H1 '19 over H1 2018. So I think that hopefully is the first sign of stabilization; and then through the, again, product enhancements, shared liquidity and good marketing that we are doing, we can move Poker back to growth trend during 2020.
Liquidity is still king in Poker and we're working on -- as I mentioned, more liquidity pools. First example is 888.pt. The next one that we're looking is France, but we're also looking into other markets to expand our Poker. And the results that we're seeing from the first launch in Portugal are encouraging. The liquidity increased by 30% on the shared liquidity network. And tournaments in Spain increased already by 20% and this has just been launched about a month or 1.5 months ago.
And we're continuing our partnership with the WSOP. We're both supplying them -- supplying WSOP, the product or the network in the new U.S. for Caesars, but we're also sponsors of the WSOP event for the last few years. That's by far the biggest Poker event globally that gets the most exposure. It's, if you like, the Champions League of Poker. It gets exposure on social networks: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, television networks, PokerGO TV. And our brand is prominently present on that event, that is admired by an entire poker community globally.
Poker8, which is our new Poker product that's been in development for the last almost a year already and starting to be rolled out in phases. It's probably the biggest product enhancement project that we have in the company at the moment. It's going to focus again on the -- what we call slightly lighter, funner entertaining platform. Introducing new features including playing poker, which seems quite intuitive, but in portrait mode; instead of playing like this, playing portrait mode. People can play with one hand.
I know it sounds a bit basic, but that doesn't exist on all poker networks. It's just one example of how we can make it more fun, recreational, and fit the requirements of the new mobile and poker players. And we believe that will be the new generation of poker and an example for the poker industry.
Moving on to Bingo. So Bingo, as you saw from the numbers, there have been some shifts both on our network and in the environment. And the category has been quite challenged due to regulatory changes in the U.K. And the category, the Bingo category, is very much reliant on the U.K. The vast majority of the category, not just for 888 but for the entire industry, is in the U.K.
We do have an independent platform, so Bingo is a separate platform that we own. It's a full stack technology supporting both B2B and B2C. And it's now fully been adapted for all the compliance requirements, that -- those changes and some of the taxation changes affected the ecosystem in Bingo.
And here as well, we're rolling out a new front-end, a new product that we've invested in developing for the last 18 months. And our goal is by the end of this year that 50% of the business, including all of our B2C brands, will be over our new enhanced product.
I can't promise that we'll see same effect like we saw in Orbit, which is an unbelievable effect. But I do think it will add more value to the players, a better and seamless navigation and usability experience backed with some smart AI and recommendation engines, just like we did on Orbit. And I believe that that will also have positive impact on Bingo business going forward.
We also, like we mentioned, acquired Costa Bingo, which is a leading brand in the U.K. Costa Bingo was one of the leading brands in the U.K. It was underinvested for many years and we acquired it from our B2B partner. The PMI process in that aspect has also finished on time and on budget. And the since that finished and we took over and we started marketing -- remarketing the brands, we're seeing good high double-digit increase in FTDs.
And again, we always say that FTDs -- increase in FTDs is the first indicator for future growth in the business. Obviously, if the rest of the pieces work well, if the product is good, retention is good, support is good, but the first real indication is FTDs. And here as well, we're seeing good indication of FTD growth, which for me is a good predictor for positive growth in the future.
And overall, we're managing to stabilize and show positive trends in spite of POC 3 that hit Bingo quite hard, the additional tax. The new age verification requirement that also hit Bingo and all the rest of the categories because of the change in the funnel. They had a significant impact on the industry specifically on the smaller operators. But we are focusing on maintaining a healthier and more balanced player ecosystem since the initial additional regulation requirements came in place.
You can see here, some of our KPIs that are showing good results, good direction. Bonus per player is going down. That's very good with the perspective of the increased tax. ARPU going up. Deposit -- average deposit per player are in the right trend. Active days per player, going up. So we are seeing what we call stabilization, and stabilization's always the first step before moving back to growth.
Moving on to the U.S., which there's been a lot of obviously buzz and a lot of talking about in the industry. And I think I'll share our approach there, which is slightly different than some of the other competitors, but we still very much believe in our approach.
So first of all, Orbit product has been launched in New Jersey in the summer. So it's both on 888casino and Harrah's Casino, which is a B2B partner of us, that's sharing the same product. And we're already seeing positive results similar to the beginning of the Orbit effect that we see in other markets. And we're very happy with that. We hope that we'll see this cycle of increase in FTD, increase of activity, increase in revenue like we see in other markets in Orbit.
But we're doing other product enhancements as well there, including launching a lot of new games into the market, improved funnel there. We're working on a different instance of our technology. It's our technology but it's completely separate data center instance of the technology from Europe. And therefore, it did have adjustments and catch-up to do on the technology that we have in Europe.
A lot of these gaps have been filled in the last few months and will be filled in the next few months, and we feel confident that New Jersey can start showing the right trends. It's actually already growing but we want it to grow on a larger scale.
888sport is growing into its second NFL season with campaigns and cross-sell efforts across the market. And we are also working on selected market access deals that are under negotiation at the moment in accordance with our strategy, which we named smart and selective approach. We're not going after all the markets in the U.S. Some of them -- just like we did in Europe, we didn't go after each and every opportunity that faced itself in the European market. Some were tax prohibitive, some were regulatory prohibitive; and just like that in U.S., some of the markets will be great and will be a huge potential, and some of them will be much less or will even -- can even be negative.
Therefore, approach is smart and selective. Not all opportunities are alike and we want to choose the right ones for the market and for us. And those are the ones that we're working on. And we will -- we are planning to launch more markets in the near future in the U.S.
You can see here 2 things, one is some indications of -- again of the Orbit, the Orbit effect. The classic Orbit effect that's come into New Jersey of 1.5 months ago. And also, we don't speak about this that much, but we still support the largest -- by far the largest poker network in the U.S. So WSOP Poker, which is owned by Harrah's, who are a B2B partner of us in combination with 888poker that's launched in market today, is by far the largest Poker network in the U.S. market.
And hopefully, as more markets open and if shared liquidity will be allowed between those markets and these markets, we think we have pole position in the U.S. to take a big share of the poker category. Although that category is a bit smaller, but still poker is king in the U.S., it's a household name game in the U.S. and we still think there is a lot of potential there as regulation develops there.
So just to summarize this presentation. Starting with the U.K., U.K. by far the most impressive results for the day, I think, a complete turnaround and back to growth pattern. We see a lot of growth opportunities in markets outside of the U.K. in terms of penetrating into new markets that are opening, some massive markets that are opening, like Sweden, like the Netherlands. And we can enter new markets and expand our market share in existing markets through Casino, through Sports, through Poker.
We're on track to reach 1 million FTDs this year. This is a significant milestone. I think it's a milestone that if you had asked us a couple of years ago, we wouldn't believe that we'll reach this number.
So last year, just to give you a comparison, we were at 830,000 FTDs, bringing 100 new players into the system in 1 year, holding the same marketing cost as we did last year shows, one, our I think professionalism in marketing; it shows our efficiency. But also, to me, it reflects potential future growth. Because like I said a few times in this presentation, growth in online gaming usually starts from increase in FTDs, which is the top of the funnel.
We're focused on Poker and Bingo turnaround efforts. We're growing our U.S. footprint through the smart and selective approach. The recent acquisitions that we did, the PMI is on track, the deals went through quite smoothly, that build our confidence in terms of making more deals, looking at more opportunities. And we're constantly looking at other opportunities from much larger scale opportunities to more, I would say, regional or product-lead opportunities that are constantly being [evaluated], and I do think we'll see more of these coming in the future.
And probably the most important thing, we're enjoying a positive current trading momentum. It's led by Casino and Sport, which we put at the forefront of our strategy. And overall, like I started the presentation, we are very happy with the results that we presented in the first half of the year and we're very confident with our prospects going forward.
So thank you very much. And we'll now be happy to take some questions.