Unibet Second Quarter Profits More Than Double

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Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Unibet Group Plc, the European Web bookmaker with customers in more than 100 countries, said second- quarter profit more than doubled after June's European soccer championship spurred betting.

Net income rose to 3.55 million pounds ($6.8 million), or 12.6 pence a share, from 1.61 million pounds, or 5.7 pence, a year earlier, the Malta-based company said today in a statement. That missed the 3.9 million-pound average of four analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Winnings from sports bets jumped by almost nine-tenths as sales set records during the month-long Euro 2008 soccer tournament, driven by ``live'' wagers made while matches are under way, Unibet said. The bookmaker also introduced its Maria Bingo Web site, purchased in December, in Belgium and Estonia during the quarter.

``With the European championship as a highlight, we reached a new record in active customers,'' Chief Executive Officer Petter Nylander said in the statement. Unibet is on course to meet financial goals for 2010, it shows.

So-called gross winnings revenue, or the amount of money lost by gamblers, rose 74 percent to 27.9 million pounds. Winnings from sports bets increased to 9.56 million pounds before free wagers from 5.11 million pounds. The operating margin, a profitability gauge, more than doubled from a year earlier to 21.9 percent.

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Unibet gained 4 kronor, or 3.3 percent, to 124.25 kronor at 9:27 a.m. in Stockholm trading, paring a climb of as much as 4 percent. The shares cost 135 kronor each when the company went public in June 2004 and have declined 44 percent in 2008 after three straight years of gains.

The bookmaker had 316,780 active customers at the end of the quarter, up 9.9 percent from three months earlier. It introduced improved mobile-phone betting during the period as well as SuperScore, for wagering on pools of soccer and ice- hockey matches. Unibet started taking bets on pools of horse races under a new method this month.

Unibet also said today it agreed on April 25 to buy online sports-media company Guildhall Media Invest Ltd. for 150,000 euros in cash and 4.2 million euros in assumed debt.

Competitor 888 Holdings Plc reported a 33 percent climb in second-quarter sales last week after the introduction of bingo and sports betting spurred more bettors to open accounts. In June, Web bookmaker Sportingbet Plc posted a third-quarter profit as more European and Australian gamblers placed bets.

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