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Ladbrokes Prepared to Accept US Poker Bets Says Managing Director

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Aug/07/2008

England's largest bookmaker, Ladbrokes, is said to be considering accepting US poker bets in a move sure to rattle the industry.

John O'Reilly, managing director of Ladbrokes, made the suggestion Thursday morning while commenting on the firm's half yearly results.

The company reported an 18pc in first-half profits after a poor Royal Ascot and Euro 2008 and fewer bets by high rollers.

Pre-tax profits fell from £154.4m to £126.7m on net revenue up 5pc to £614.8m.

Operating profits from high rollers fell 33pc to £40m, while operating profit excluding the high-stakes players edged down 2pc to £130m. Christopher Bell, chief executive, said the company had shown "resilience against a challenging economic backdrop".

"In UK Retail, following a strong first four months of the year, June suffered a string of poor results affecting all channels, most notably Royal Ascot and the early stages of Euro 2008."

Ladbrokes had made the decision to enter the US market prior to the passage of a bill making the operation of an online poker room illegal in the States. The firm had not officially announced its intentions but was forced to back off those plans. Nearly all the publicly traded Internet poker companies retreated from the US market following passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act in October 2006.

Ladbrokes is a member of the FTSE 250 Index and was once part of the Hilton Group, owning the hotel brand outside of the United States.

Ladbrokes owns over 2,200 retail betting shops divided between the UK, Ireland and Belgium. It also operates several online gambling websites offering sportsbook, poker, casino, games, bingo and backgammon. Ladbrokes uses the OpenBet system from Orbis Technology.

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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