500.com losses mount as China’s online lottery freeze drags on

Chinese sports lottery technology firm 500.com has inked its first land-based lottery deal as it waits (in vain) for the authorities in Beijing to approve the resumption of online lottery sales.

Last week, the Nasdaq-listed 500.com released its Q1 earnings report, which showed revenue of RMB38.4m (US$6.1m) and an operating loss of RMB76.7m in the three months ending March 31.

500.com formerly had a lucrative business operating online sports lottery channels but these operations have been dormant since Beijing ordered the ‘temporary’ suspension of online sales in March 2015. Ever since, the company has been struggling to diversify through a variety of acquisitions, including a brief fling with a social poker business that the company sold off (for a $1.6m profit) in February.

Virtually all (85%) of 500.com’s Q1 revenue came from The Multi Group (TMG), the parent company of Malta-based, Nordic-facing online gambling operator Multilotto.com, which 500.com acquired in May 2017. But taking on TMG also led to significant increases in operating, sales and marketing expenses as well as cost of services, which boosted the quarterly net loss.

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