All Bets Off For Leisure & Gaming: Shares Suspended

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Italian football fans - and especially followers of José Mourinho's mighty Inter Milan - may have done for Leisure & Gaming, the London-listed bookmaking company, whose shares were suspended today after a seemingly doomed attempt to crack the betting market in Italy.

L&G is Italy's fourth-largest betting operator, having bought the Betshop brand in 2006. However there are now fears for its future.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, L&G said: "Football results have continued to be unfavourable and sports margins have remained below expectations and this has had a consequential impact on the company's profitability and cash position.

"The company now finds itself constrained by a lack of working capital. All businesses continue to trade and the directors are in early-stage discussions with a number of parties with a view to securing further funding for the business and are undertaking a strategic review of the business which may lead to a disposal of certain businesses and assets in its portfolio. There is no expectation of an offer for Leisure & Gaming."

The news out of L&G follows the dominance of Serie A this year by Internazionale, the eventual Italian league champions, and Roma, led by another former Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri. Inter have also advanced to tomorrow's final of the Champions League.

L&G is not the first British bookmaker to fall foul of an Italian betting market dominated by three players: SNAI, Lottomatica and Intralot. William Hill quit Italy two years ago.

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