TAB NZ recorded above budget profits for the first time in months thanks to strong returns from sports betting and domestic racing.

For the month to 31 January 2023, the gaming operator reported a profit of NZ$14.6m (US$9.1m/€8.6m/£7.6m), which was $0.3m above budget. In the sixth monthly trading update for the 2022-23 financial year, this was the first time the operator has posted a profit above budget.

Turnover of $230.1m was 0.9% above budget, in part thanks to a strong racing and sports calendar.

Following on from December, overall field sizes across all three racing codes in January were again either up on, or on par with, the year-to-date average. The peak meeting turnover of $6.6m was on 21 January for the Karaka Million at Pukekohe.

Test cricket proved an attraction for sports customers, with the second test between Pakistan and New Zealand, as well as the third test between Australia and South Africa, topping the list of sports events by turnover for January. Basketball was the leading in-play sporting code accounting for 36% of in-play turnover and also topped pre-match singles with 31% of pre-match turnover.

TAB NZ said average weekly customer numbers climbed to an average of 78,000 since August, up from 70,000 for the same period in the previous year. TAB NZ has also won back a number of high value customers from offshore competitors, which has helped to strengthen turnover.

Gross betting revenue of $36.8m was above budget by 0.9% and gross betting margin of 16.0% was in line with budget.

Operating expenses were $11.2m for the month, which was $0.8m above budget. This was due to an increase in technology spend, strengthening the Elite customer proposition and expenses associated with the final phase of identifying an international wagering operator as a potential strategic partner, to support materially boosting the fortunes of racing and sport as well as enhancing the customer experience.

The business’ $14.6m profit was made up of betting profit of $13.3m, which was 0.2% above budget, while gaming profit of $1.3m was 0.1% above budget. Racing codes were paid $13.4m in distributions and other payments for January, versus $15.8m budgeted.

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