High-rollers hit Ladbrokes profits


High-rollers hit Ladbrokes profits
Stay-at-home 'high-rollers' hit gaming specialist Ladbrokes in the first four months of 2007, the company has reported.

Ladbrokes said its profits for the four months ending April 30th were down ten per cent, thanks to the impact of telephone high-rollers. Excluding them its profits rose five per cent.

The Harrow-based firm blamed "tough comparatives in the same period last year" for the drop. Ladbrokes' profits in the equivalent period in 2006 rose by five per cent, with a gross win improvement of 11 per cent.

This year the gross win increased by just two per cent, but Ladbrokes said it was concentrating on growing its global operations amid the strategic expansion of its online business.

"Future over-the-counter trends are difficult to predict, not least because of the advent of all-year-round evening opening," the company said in today's trading update.

"We continue to focus energetically on international development opportunities in both Europe and Asia, with our activities in Italy the most advanced."

Meanwhile Ladbrokes chief executive Chris Bell has dismissed claims the company may soon be the subject of a private equity takeover bid.

"It's absolute rhubarb," Mr Bell told the Reuters news agency.

Shares in Ladbrokes fell by 0.41 per cent on early morning trading.

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