Ladbrokes casino machines pay off - Friday 27th of February 2009

Punters may have been left looking at snowbound and waterlogged racecourses on the bookies television screens for much of this worst winter in years, but they are still losing their cash in the betting shop casino machines.

So far, 2009 has seen 59 abandoned race meetings - a record for the first seven weeks of the year - as many of the top thoroughbreds being groomed for the big spring festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown in Ireland are forced to remain on their home gallops.

But Britains biggest bookmaker, Ladbrokes, said the money it has taken from punters is up 1% compared with the same period last year.

The start to this year has been dreadful - the record number of cancellations being three times higher than for the average winter, said Ladbrokes chief executive Chris Bell. But the current trading shows how resilient our business is.

There is a lot of talk about how the economy and rising unemployment would affect our business. What we are seeing is that it isnt.

Our betting shop customers are low-stake punters who are continuing to enjoy their hobby.

Ladbrokes today reported marginally higher underlying profits of £243m for 2008, which revealed how much of its business is now underpinned by the casino machines in its betting shops.

Its winnings from over-the-counter bets was down slightly in the year, but the money it is raking in from its 8,000 in-shop gaming machines around the country soared by 15% and now accounts for two-fifths of Ladbrokes income from its betting offices.

Ladbrokes has also had a strong start to the year from telephone betting high rollers.

The firm accounts for high-roller income as outside its underlying operations because business with big punters is notoriously lumpy and cannot be relied upon.

Last year the company made £80m from the higher rollers - a nice line of extra income - although that compares with a record £179m in 2007.

That dragged down the groups comparable pre-tax profits from £353m to £258m.

However, the big punters have lost a lot of money so far this year. Ladbrokes said it took £24m from them in the last seven weeks.

Despite fears by some in the City of a cut, the companys final dividend is being held at 9.05p, giving a total for the year of 14.15p.

Other news from around the same time

Centre in the frame for casino plan - Friday 27th of February 2009

THE ExCeL exhibition centre in Newhams Docklands could soon be home to a new large casino.The exhibi....

Bill would allow tribal gambling - Friday 27th of February 2009

American Indian tribes in Texas are trying again to reopen their casinos with legislation filed Tues....

Cagayan casino plan relies on opening of new airport - Friday 27th of February 2009

The Cagayan Freeport and Special Economic Zone is projecting to create over 5,000 additional jobs wi....

The chips are down for casino-owning tribe - Friday 27th of February 2009

The Indian tribe that owns the biggest casino in the country on 1,500 wooded acres here - and wants ....

Casino gambling in the islands - Friday 27th of February 2009

The main attraction of a Caribbean vacation has always been the sugar-white sand and clear, turquois....

Google should not be allowed to advertise online gambling say MPs - Thursday 26th of February 2009

The MPs backed a warning by the Church of England warning that the search engines actions were irres....

Plans for casino at former cinema site - Thursday 26th of February 2009

DONCASTERS landmark Odeon cinema could be demolished and replaced with a casino, if developers get t....

Gambling Heiress Bets on Macaus Recovery - Thursday 26th of February 2009

At a time when Macau faces an uncertain hand, Pansy Ho is placing bets on the Chinese gambling encla....

Ritzio opens premium Allegre Casino - Thursday 26th of February 2009

Peruvian architect Willie Gomez-Moron, famous for his casino designs in Las Vegas, Vienna, Sharm el ....

Casinos lower prices to pump up business - Thursday 26th of February 2009

With December and year-long revenue results expected to be posted this week, Nevada’s gaming industr....