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Monday, October 17, 2005

Profits racing ahead

Online UK bookmaker Sportingbet has seen its profits almost double - thanks in part to a good performance from newly-acquired Paradise Poker.

Pre-tax profits rose to £15.7m in the six months to January, from £8.4m in the same period a year earlier.

The group said Paradise Poker gave its business a lift, boosting turnover by £12.5m, and contributing £8m to its overall operating profits of £26m.

It also announced plans to pay a maiden dividend at the end of the full year.

Registered customers soared 85.1% to 2.27 million - but would have risen just 17.1% without Paradise Poker's custom, the group said.

The company snapped up the internet poker site for an initial payment of £298m in October.

Chief executive Nigel Payne added that the group had performed strongly in the first three weeks of the third quarter.

"Sports betting volume continued to grow at an encouraging rate and Sportingbet's casino, gaming and poker revenue streams performed well," he said.

He also told reporters that Sportingbet's strong performance had prompted some analysts to raise their profits forecast for the financial year from their original estimates of £49m to between £52m and £54m.