Record Profits For Ladbrokes. - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Ladbrokes, the UK bookmaker owned by the Hilton Group, unveiled record profits this week, up 28 per cent to GBP 273 million, with valuable contributions from internet gambling and virtual roulette machines.

The Hilton group also announced it was returning up to GBP 400 million to shareholders by selling as many as 18 hotels.

Profits from Ladbrokes' internet operations rose 50 percent over the year to GBP 21.3 million, and profits in its betting shops rose 24 percent to GBP 215 million. Winnings on virtual roulette machines were up 41 percent and Ladbrokes now takes GBP 584 a week from each machine.

Chris Hill, managing director of Ladbrokes, urged Parliament to push ahead with the introduction of the Gambling Bill, which he said will bring better regulation of the betting industry.

"The laws as they stand are out of date and need to be modernized," he said. The Hilton Group hopes to benefit from the Bill's casino proposals. It wants to win one of the eight new supercasino licences that the Gambling Bill will allow.

"We have put in a serious bid for Blackpool because we think we have two strong brands, Hilton and Ladbrokes, that could make the development work," he said. It is also looking at other sites for supercasinos in Birmingham and Brighton.

Pre-tax profits at the group rose 41 percent to GBP 383 million.

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