Buzz Bingo, the large UK land and online operator, has revealed that it managed to reduce its financial losses in the 2021 financial year thanks to an increase in revenues and to cut back on spending.
The operator saw revenue for the year from 17 January 2021 to 15 January 2022 of £139.8 million, an increase of 14.4% from £122.2 million in the previous year. Buzz Bingo has explained that the removal of coronavirus restrictions enabled it to open up its land-based venues and allow more players to enter them.
However, this appears to have affected its online operations. Online revenue fell 31% year-on-year as players returned to playing at the bingo clubs and cut back on their online play. The operator explained that the previous year’s strong online performance was due to players moving online due to the absence of retail.
In its update, Buzz Bingo revealed that costs of sales were up 10% at £46.4 million. However, due to the increased revenue, gross profit was up 17.1% to £93.7 million. The company also saw administrative expenses fall 32.6% to £113.8 million. Therefore, the combination of lower costs and higher revenues meant that operating profits for the full year were £10.2 million, compared to an £11 million loss the previous year.
The operator reported £3.2 million in exceptional items and £28.7 million in depreciation, amortisation, and impairment. While these are substantial sums, they are far lower than in 2020, which saw exceptional items of £14.3 million and a £28.8 million non-cash impairment of goodwill saw depreciation, amortisation, and impairment costs of £69.1 million.
Overall, this resulted in an operating loss of £20.1 million, a vast improvement on the £88.7 million of the previous year. Net financial expenses also fell; they were £31.7 million, down from £42 million. Therefore, there was a pre-tax loss of £51.9 million, far lower than the £130.7 million in 2020.
Furthermore, as the operator did not pay any tax, the net loss was £51.9 million, compared to £141.9 million in the previous year.
A statement from Buzz Bingo read:
“The current trading performance and linked underlying customer resilience are encouraging signs and provide the directors with additional comfort that the business is now well placed to respond to the ongoing uncertainty that Covid-19 continues to bring.”
While the return of players to Buzz Bingo’s retail venues is certainly a positive, the operator is already taking steps to improve its online performance and attract new players. On 22 June 2022, the company announced a partnership with the technology company Future Anthem.
Future Anthem is an AI solutions provider, and it is providing Buzz Bingo with the Personalisation module of its Amplifier AI product. The technology is designed to personalise the player experience using a combination of machine learning models and advanced data engineering.
Amplifier AI was designed specifically for the gambling industry. Its algorithms are able to examine behavioural data and humanise it with AI to create real-time personalisation. This has been shown to improve player retention and bring added player value.
For example, the Personalisation module is able to improve in-lobby game recommendations to players. This means that theoretically, players will be targeted with games, including slots and casino games, which appeal to the individual. It will also be used to optimise Buzz Bingo’s game release pipeline.
“Buzz Bingo strives to offer the best player experiences possible, and we’re always looking for new, innovative ways to improve our gaming products. Working with Future Anthem to leverage their predictive models, which create personalised recommendations, takes our site personalisation to the next level – we’re impressed with the outputs and results at this early stage.”
David Evans / Buzz Bingo Digital Operations Director
Chris Conroy, the Chief Data Officer at Future Anthem, said that the technology will help Buzz Bingo develop its offering, recommendations and player interaction. While it may not be enough to bring a certain demographic back from the bingo halls to the virtual world, it should certainly encourage new and existing players at Buzz Bingo online to remain active and engaged.
Furthermore, in May this year, Buzz Bingo appointed Jennifer Day to its board as a non-executive director.
Day has a vast amount of experience and has previously worked as the managing director of media business Sky Digital before being appointed to its board as a non-executive director. Importantly, Day’s experience is mainly in digital transformation projects. For example, at Sky UK and Ireland, she was in charge of a marketing team in product design and development that included the customer experience on Sky’s website and the My Sky App digital platform.
As such, she will be extremely valuable as Buzz Bingo attempts to attract more online players. Day seems full of enthusiasm for her new role, describing Buzz Bingo as one of the “leading online” brands in the UK, and said that she will be advising on how to build on that success.
While Buzz Bingo’s retail operations have been outperforming its online offering, the company is in no way complacent.
Buzz Bingo regularly organises special events at its bingo clubs designed to keep customers coming back and attract new players. A good example of this is the Kevin and Perry bingo night that is due to be held in Colchester later this year.
The comedy duo, created by Harry Enfield and known from the film “Kevin & Perry Go Large”, will be making an exclusive appearance at a special nightclub event in November.
According to the event preview, the pair will be joining Granny Fanny, DJ Jim Slipp, and a six-foot dinosaur to run an evening of laughter, dancing, dabbing, and the chance to win amazing prizes. In addition to plenty of bingo, Kevin and Perry will also be performing an hour-long set of classic Ibiza anthems complete with lasers, canons and glow-sticks.
In short, it seems that there are very exciting times ahead for Buzz Bingo, both in the virtual world and at its retail locations.