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  • XLMedia share price slumps 11% as Finnish iGaming regulation leads to 2022 revenue warning
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The share price of XLMedia has fallen by nearly 11% despite the Jersey-based affiliate reporting a 21.5% uptick in revenue to $66.6m for full-year 2021. 

According to a trading update released today by the London-listed affiliate, its sports vertical performed well during the year generating revenue of around $25.2m, more than double the $11.3m it generated in 2020.

Sports betting revenue was buoyed by two US-facing acquisitions and several media and publishing partnerships struck during the year. The group now has North American coverage across 15 states in the US, and said its market opportunities will increase as more states legalise online sports betting.

In March, XLMedia acquired Sports Betting Dime, a US sports betting affiliate site that previously diverted customers to offshore sportsbook operators. In September it completed the $24m acquisition of Saturday Football Inc, a global digital performance publisher focused on college football news.

Group EBITDA for the period is expected to come in at $17.2, ahead of the $12.2m reported last year.

The company’s personal finance sector generated a further $8.8m in revenue, slightly ahead of the $8.4m brought in by the vertical in 2020. The affiliate said it is facing challenges in this area and expects divisional 2022 revenue to be below 2021 levels. 

Meanwhile, European casino revenue dipped significantly on the previous year, at $23.2m compared to $31.7m, with an expectation that the vertical will continue to see pressure due to regulatory headwinds.

XLMedia said its Finnish casino assets would face negative regulatory change in 2022 and thus would likely significantly impact revenue performance in the coming year.

In December, as part of broader gambling reforms in the country, Finland’s parliament approved a government proposal to introduce payment blocking for any online gambling operator besides monopoly operator Veikkaus.

At the time of the reform’s introduction, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) said evidence from other countries shows that payment blocking does not significantly affect consumer demand, and that Finnish lawmakers had missed an opportunity for meaningful and overdue gambling reform in the country.

“The introduction of PSP blockings is an implicit admission that many of Finland’s gamblers prefer to bet on other websites rather than that of the state-run monopoly,” commented EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer.

“In the online world, consumers vote with their feet and that is why we will continue to encourage the government to rethink, rather than reinforce, the country’s online gambling monopoly model and advocate for the benefits of establishing a well-regulated, multi-licensing model for online gambling in Finland.”

Investors duly took note of XLMedia’s reaction to the reforms. Shares in the business are trading at 34.75p at the time of writing, down 10.9% on yesterday’s closing price.

However, it argued that progress had been made on rationalising and reorganising the business to further capitalise on the North American market opportunity and to reduce risk from legacy areas of the business.

This initiative will see the business incur additional costs until mid-2022 as previously communicated.

While the US sports betting vertical is expected to deliver strong growth in 2022, this is likely to be offset in part by the managed decline of the European casino vertical and the restructuring of the personal finance vertical.

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