U.S. Markets closed

Edited Transcript of PBH.AX earnings conference call or presentation 30-Jan-20 10:00pm GMT

Q2 2020 Pointsbet Holdings Ltd Earnings Call

Feb 4, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Pointsbet Holdings Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 10:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

================================================================================

Corporate Participants

================================================================================

* Samuel J. Swanell

PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director

================================================================================

Conference Call Participants

================================================================================

* Alice Li

Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Damien Williamson

Bell Potter Securities Limited, Research Division - Fixed Income and Hybrids Analyst

* Phillip Chippindale

Ord Minnett Limited, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

================================================================================

Presentation

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for standing by, and welcome to the PointsBet Holdings Limited Q2 FY 2020 4C and Activities Report. (Operator Instructions).

I would now like to hand the conference over to Mr. Sam Swanell, Managing Director and Group CEO. Please go ahead.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks. Good morning, and thank you for joining this call for the PointsBet Holdings Limited Q2 FY 2020 Activities Report. This is Sam Swanell, CEO, and I'm joined on this call today by our CFO, Andrew Mellor; and General Counsel, Andrew Hensher. This morning, I'll be commenting on our December quarter Appendix 4C release, which was launched with the ASX this morning. Please note, all numbers referred to are unaudited and in Australian dollars.

PointsBet reported a Q2 FY '20 net win of $18 million, a 117% increase on the prior corresponding period of Q2 FY '19, which we now refer to as the PCP, which was $8.3 million. This takes the company's group year-to-date net win to $29.8 million. It is pleasing after 2 quarters to have exceeded the total FY 2019 net win of $28.2 million.

The company's wagering turnover for the quarter increased to $297.3 million, up 169% on the PCP. The company had 185,138 registered clients at 31st December, 2019. Of these, 102,155 are active clients, meaning they've placed a bet in the last 12 months, an increase of 123% on the PCP. Net cash used in operating activities, including the movement in player cash accounts in the quarter ending 31st December, 2019 was $14.3 million.

In the U.S., PointsBet continued marketing and promotional initiatives aimed at attracting and retaining clients, as we grow our New Jersey business during the important NFL and NBA seasons. In Australia, marketing and promotion were focused on the crucial Spring Carnival, which culminates in the Melbourne Cup race meeting, Australia's largest single betting turnover event of the year. The cash outflows for the period were circa $700,000 less than the previous Appendix 4C estimate of $34.5 million. The reduction was driven by lower cash outflows on advertising and marketing during the period of $10.4 million versus the estimate of $12.5 million, primarily driven by the timing of marketing payments. This was offset by higher corporate administration cash outflows of $13.5 million versus the estimate of $12.5 million, driven by increased cost of sales as a result of stronger-than-expected Australian trading results.

Following our successful capital raising in November, the company's cash and cash equivalents at 31st December, 2019, was $147.8 million, which excludes $9.7 million of player cash accounts. Following the announcement of the Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan market access agreement, and this morning's announcement for retail and online market access in Kansas, PointsBet now has access to 12 states subject, where relevant to the passing of enabling legislation and licensure. Our market access agreements highlight our ability to continue to win competitive processes. This provides great confidence that we will gain future additional market access opportunities in other states.

We've commenced the project to deliver our in-house online casino platform and product suite, which, subject to relevant licensure and regulations, will be deployed over time pursuant to our market access agreements with Penn National Gaming, Double Eagle Casino and Lac Vieux Desert, and potential future market access opportunities.

In Q3 2020, we expect cash outflows relating to obligations under our market access agreements, including a portion of the Illinois retail Sportsbook fit out to total $7.5 million. We will continue to grow our staff and build and develop our capabilities in our Denver, Colorado U.S. headquarters with our staff and research and development costs expected to be $9.3 million and $2.5 million, respectively for the quarter. In the U.S., our Q3 FY '20 marketing efforts will see the introduction of Indiana marketing campaign as we prepare to launch operations in that state.

In Australia, we are moving from a peak acquisition season with a heavy focus on the Spring Racing Carnival into a period of traditionally lower seasonal marketing spend, and we expect Australian marketing investment to decrease quarter-on-quarter. This is reflective of our continued disciplined approach to spending. We expect our administration and corporate cost for Q3 2020 to be $12.4 million.

I would now like to comment further on our trading results. I'm very pleased to report that PointsBet Australian business had an exceptional quarter of trading. The company's continued investment in its global platform, products and client experience, together with a favorable run of results for the industry, [meant] the Australian business achieved a record quarter in all key metrics, mainly turnover, gross win and most importantly, a net win of $14.6 million, a 76% increase from the $8.3 million in the PCP.

This takes the company's Australian year-to-date net win to $27.2 million. The Australian business recorded gross win margin of 11.2%, gave away 29% of gross win opportunities to record a net win margin of 7.9%, up from 7.4% in the PCP. As a further proof point in the company's technological capabilities, PointsBet Australia processed over 180,000 bets on Melbourne Cup day and added to peak over 900 bets per minute.

Turning to the United States. While New Jersey is undoubtedly a competitive market, PointsBet's marketing expertise and disciplined approach continues to produce encouraging cost per acquisition outcomes. In addition, PointsBet has been investing in building the brand and free-to-play database outside of New Jersey. Not only does this mean that PointsBet is going into new states with existing brand recognition, but it also assists in PointsBet's market access strategy as we expand across the United States.

New Jersey digital Q2 2020 turnover of $99.6 million represented an increase of 80.9% on Q1 2020, as the NFL and NBA seasons progressed. While gross win margin achieved was 6.4%, net win margin was 1.8%, which reflects an important acquisition and retention period for the company, resulting in higher targeted promotional spend. It should also be noted that gross win margin was lower in Q2 to 6.4% from 8% in Q1, reflecting a movement towards more sustainable long-term yields.

The high staking clients area of the business saw an improved performance quarter-on-quarter, achieving a net win of $1.5 million in Q2, compared to a net win loss of $3.6 million in Q1. This area of the business is likely to remain volatile until we enter new markets and grow the scale of the segment. Using the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement calculation methodologies to handle, PointsBet's turnover market share for online in New Jersey was 5.9%, down from 6.7% in the previous quarter on the back of lower high staking clients turnover. Iowa retail recorded its first full quarter of operations in Q1 '20 after launching on 20th of August 2019. Net win margin was lower-than-expected, reflecting a run of favorable results for clients. This is magnified as a result of the lower absolute dollar value of net win in Iowa. Iowa net win margin is expected to stabilize as retail turnover grows and results normalize.

During the quarter, the company also launched digital operations in Iowa, accepting the first online wagers on 20th of November 2019. This represents the company's second online market in its operations. While it is early days for Iowa Digital, the company is pleased with the progress made to date. PointsBet is well positioned to take advantage of the growing opportunity in the wider U.S. as other states will go live with strong leadership and experienced management. This has been bolstered by the nomination of Becky Harris, the first ever Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and former Nevada state Senator, to the Board as a nonexecutive Director.

Furthermore, PointsBet recognizes the importance of its media strategy within the growing U.S. market. And to strengthen this position, appointed Eric Foote, former CBS Sports Digital Vice President to the position of U.S. Chief Commercial Officer. We continue to be involved in numerous conversations with media organizations and recognize this as an important part of our U.S. strategy.

As I've spoken to you regularly, the rollout of our technology initiatives will be a key factor in the success of our strategy. The company continues to invest in our in-house technology platform across the global business, as we build the capability of the technology function, to capitalize on the opportunity for scalability across the outstanding U.S. footprint. We focus on delivering a best practice and user experience across all front-end channels, including web, mobile, apps and retail.

During the period, development was completed on our new online customer interface, which was recently deployed in the United States. The results achieved by the group today are even more encouraging, given the initiatives that are planned to release throughout 2020 and the positive impact they will have on the business.

Finally, I would like to comment on PointsBet's U.S. state-by-state operational execution. The company is entering into an important period of execution, as we roll out operations across our expanding footprint. We are currently operational in New Jersey and Iowa and expect to launch online in Indiana by the end of this quarter. Subject to approval of regulations by the Illinois Gaming Board, PointsBet expects to have launched both retail and online operations in Illinois by the end of Q1 2021, with Colorado and Michigan to follow pending the level of state regulations.

As disclosed earlier this morning, PointsBet has entered into an exclusive racing agreement with Kansas Crossing Casino in Kansas, contingent upon the passing of enabling legislation as well as obtaining the necessary regulatory licenses. This is another proof point of our ability to win competitive market access processes for both online and retail operations. I would like to thank you for your time today, and we'd welcome any questions.

================================================================================

Questions and Answers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from Damien Williamson with Bell Potter.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Damien Williamson, Bell Potter Securities Limited, Research Division - Fixed Income and Hybrids Analyst [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have got one on the update. Can you just run through, you know, just with the market share being down slightly, where you think you are relative to your competitors? Are you still fighting up third with William Hill? Or you found, yes, on your estimates, are there other bookmakers making ground? Or can you just give -- shed some light on where you see the competitive landscape at the moment?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, certainly, Damien. Yes, I still think we are around that fighting for third position. I think it's somewhat difficult taking market share, looking on a month-by-month basis. There's a lot of things, as we sort of commented on just in high staking clients, in particular, can have an impact on month-to-month measurement. But no, we still believe we're over in that third place mark behind the FanDuel and DraftKings, who are still obviously dominating the market.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Damien Williamson, Bell Potter Securities Limited, Research Division - Fixed Income and Hybrids Analyst [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And also, you mentioned your state rollouts. Is there any update on West Virginia?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [5]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, West Virginia is a small state. Part of -- we've [got a book of other states], thankfully, to be rolling out through. And I'm confident that for the next year or 2 years, there's actually going to be no shortage of continued state rollouts, which is great. West Virginia is one of the smaller states in our book of states. So at the moment, it hasn't taken top priority, but we certainly will get to it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Damien Williamson, Bell Potter Securities Limited, Research Division - Fixed Income and Hybrids Analyst [6]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. And also, is there any update on the Mexico business?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [7]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Not really, Damien. As we've commented on throughout the mix given the opportunity is dependent on our partner, who will be obtaining the license to first move through that process. Once they've got the license and got the (inaudible) [to roll it in] (inaudible) to come in to run the book to support operationally, would come into play, but that hasn't appeared just yet.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Damien Williamson, Bell Potter Securities Limited, Research Division - Fixed Income and Hybrids Analyst [8]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And just as a final question, have you found the in-person sign-up process in Iowa? Yes, in Kansas, you have to go through that in Illinois. How much success you had in that process and -- or how did (inaudible)?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [9]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. It's an interesting one. I think most of the stakeholders in Iowa would now be looking at the in-person requirement and perhaps thinking it would be better to have the full mobile environment. Obviously, they're supporting of that and the market to reach its potential as quickly as possible on the in-person legislation, obviously, adds a manual step that shouldn't necessarily be there. Look, I think the positive out of it for us is that the same thing is going to happen in Illinois. And in Illinois, obviously, through our agreement with Hawthorne, our physical locations are a competitive advantage. And the positive out of the Iowa experience is the practice that we're getting to work through those processes and learn from that so that when we come to like Illinois, they're better prepared. But it definitely does have a -- quite an impact on the market potential. And as we've said before, our location in Iowa through Catfish Bend Casino is not in the Iowa landscape, whereas, in Illinois, we believe, our in-person sign-up opportunities in Illinois are the top seed in that state and thus -- although it's still onerous to have the in-person sign-up, we're better positioned in Illinois than we are in Iowa.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [10]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Your next question comes from Phillip Chippindale with Ord Minnett.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Phillip Chippindale, Ord Minnett Limited, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [11]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A couple of questions from me. Firstly, just in relation to Kansas, can you just give us a sense of what we should be expecting timing-wise in relation to that? I know you just announced it this morning. But, yes, just wondering about the regulations there and when we can maybe expect that to come online?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [12]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. So Kansas hasn't passed the legislation yet. So it's still -- that's happening at the moment. We're hopeful that, that gets across the line. I wouldn't expect the market to be taking any bets this year. And it will depend on the legislation getting through the pace at which the regulations get done. So it's probably more likely 2021 consideration. And we'll be prioritizing it amongst other states around that time frame. I would mention that Kansas is expected to be an 8-scheme environment. So there's 4 commercial casinos, the draft legislation, something like 2 schemes each. It's a $129 million GGR estimate from (inaudible) as to the size of the revenue. So it's an example of a limited licensing environment, 8 schemes is far less, obviously, than we're experiencing in New Jersey, for example. So we do think it's an important piece of the puzzle, but yes, not one that's expected to go live until next year?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Phillip Chippindale, Ord Minnett Limited, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [13]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just turning back to New Jersey for a moment. And then in terms of its high staking clients, can you just talk a little bit about the drivers there for why there was that lower share for the quarter? Was it a function of demand? Or was it the odds that you were setting? Could you just maybe give us a bit of color around that?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [14]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Most of these high staking clients are, I think, I've spoken about before, I mean, they're not necessarily betting every -- as regularly as a very recreational client. So some of them might have some particular sports that they're following. They might have particular teams that they support and focus on. So things like certain teams dropping out of the NFL race getting to the finals in NFL, those sorts of things can result in some of those high staking clients, starting up soft for a period until they come back to the sports that they're interested in next season. So that's generally, in general terms, the reasoning.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [15]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) Your next question comes from Alice Li with Crédit Suisse.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alice Li, Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [16]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just got a question on customer acquisition in general, given PointsBet's -- that they have the customer -- daily fantasy sports customer base to cross-sell. So could you please just give a bit more color in terms of how you tackle that area?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [17]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, Alice, I mean, we've been talking for a little while about how New Jersey is a bit of an interesting state because it does take the media market from New York and Philadelphia and Pennsylvania and that's -- it's very difficult for a group like us, who is executing or aiming just for the New Jersey acquisition to spend on mainstream TV commercials [per episode]. So the approach we've taken in New Jersey, the client acquisition has been very digital based. I mean, I think, it's been great learnings. We have to go out there and earn our clients, as you mentioned. We don't have that database of DraftKings or FanDuel has. And even in New Jersey, most of our competitors have existing casino businesses and online casino businesses that have been around for a few years.

So New Jersey is a challenging market from an acquisition perspective from a number of fronts. And then obviously, the final factor being that there are a lot of competitors in that space. But we believe, we've executed well. We've executed it in a disciplined fashion. We've maintained cost per acquisitions that we're comfortable with. As I mentioned in my script, we are spending, I suppose, a little bit more broadly on brand recognition across the country in preparation for going into Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, et cetera. And that does help us also when it comes to winning market access deals and the profile of the company as a whole is lifted up. But yes, it's -- I think, DraftKings in some of their releases talked about a 40% conversion rate from active clients on fantasy to the -- sports betting business, there's no doubting that, that's part of the reason, the main reason why they are where they are in terms of market share. But it's also reflective of the fact that they're spending a lot more money in those markets.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alice Li, Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [18]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And I presume the methodologies in customer acquisitions for high staking clients and mass markets are different. So what points that strategy or focus going forward, in terms of which clients and how to focus on?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [19]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Now, we always talk about, I suppose, in trying to show the market the, let's call it, the sustainable retail digital model. That's why we sort of separate out the high staking clients to try and deliver trends that the market can look at that are not necessarily influenced by all the volatility of the high staking clients. So the way we attract high staking clients is more likely through relationships. We do have people on the ground looking to form relationships with its high staking clients. So it's more of a one-on-one relationship, business development type efforts, whereas, obviously, general acquisition is more traditional marketing: TVCs; digital radio; outdoor, et cetera. So it is a different model.

Similarly, though, sometimes through your normal marketing methodologies, you pick up some clients that are not staking very large, and it makes sense obviously to look after them in a more personal fashion. And so the high staking clients can be acquired through traditional means.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alice Li, Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [20]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Right. Just 1 more for me. So I understand PointsBet has priorities in terms of rolling out, in which state, but I noticed that PointsBet seems a little bit behind. Its major competitors for your space, given in Iowa, for example, online, and Indiana, West Virginia has been live for months. So what's the reason for that? Is that just navigating politics, maybe, or some other reasons?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel J. Swanell, PointsBet Holdings Limited - Co-Founder, MD, Group CEO & Director [21]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, I think it's 3 main reasons: one, a lot of our competitors are already licensed in those states. So if they've got existing casino businesses then they've already passed probity, they already have checks and balances and relationships in place. They have infrastructure in that state. So we're obviously entering a new state. We haven't previously been in those states. We have to get through certification of their systems probity. But it is also a matter of resources. I think we'd acknowledge that. I think we've made a lot of ground more recently in building the capability of the team. It wasn't that long ago that the resources that we had were really quite skinny.

So as we build the capability of the team, we actually expect that this year is sort of a transition period for us. We are catching up in some of the states, where some of our competitors are getting a head start on us. And I think we'll close that gap by the end of this year. So I think states like Michigan, for example, I think, will be very close to the starting line. And we are putting a lot of effort into this. And I actually would anticipate that come 2021, we'll be a lot closer, if not closest to the starting line going forward. The licensing process will still take some time. But again, we'll get better and better at that in making that an easy process for the company. But from a technology perspective, it's not necessarily easy to roll out all of these channels. And I actually think listening to some of our competitors and their time lines from 2021 onwards, I feel very confident that we'll be winning that race rather than coming in a little bit behind.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [22]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) There are no further questions at this time. And that does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect.