A little later than anticipated, Betfred has released its 2020 financial report, year ending September 27, and revealed that a hefty VAT rebate kicker has nicely counter-balanced a big–and totally expected–drop in the firm’s gaming handle across its 1,600 UK betting shops.

Punters wagered a total of £6.48 billion with Betfred during the period (US$8.97bn/€7.59bn), down almost 36 per cent, compared to the £10.1 billion placed in 2019 (US$13.98bn/€11.83bn).

Although the firm’s revenue dropped by over 15 per cent to £524.9 million (US$726.66m/€614.94m), margins—pushed by a hefty and long-awaited £97.7 million VAT rebate (US$135.25m/€114.46m)—were up and the firm, founded by the irrepressible Fred Done in 1967, recorded an operating profit of £104.5 million (US$144.66m/€122.42m) — up 40 per cent, year-on-year.

Riding out Covid-19 closures of its betting shops estate, gross profit, understandably, fell by some £65 million compared to 2019 (around US$90m/€76m). But falling administrative and staff costs partly offset the drop.

Betfred received £28.1m from the British government’s furlough scheme (around US$39m/€33m), which helped protect the jobs of its 7,000 employees.

The operator paid £39.5 million in tax in 2020 (US$54.68m/€46.27m), double the sum paid to the exchequer in 2019.

Earlier this year Betfred announced that Fred Done, who once survived a frenzied knife attack by a disgruntled punter, had handed over the executive reins to Joanne Whittaker.

But no way is Done done and the billionaire remains chairman of the online and traditional betting company.