Gaming company Ladbrokes has announced a "positive" start to 2006, revealing a five per cent increase in profits for the first four months of the year.
The company's total gross win over the period also rose by 11 per cent, with Ladbrokes benefiting from good horseracing results at Cheltenham and Aintree and a growth in telephone betting and online gambling.
Ladbrokes said that the gross win for its European retail arm had increased by seven per cent in the four months to April 30th, despite the loss of 37 race meetings over the period.
Total costs for the business rose by 12 per cent, as anticipated by the company, with new acquisitions and licenses driving the increase alongside rising utility and energy bills.
Ladbroke's eGaming operation reported an increase of 26 per cent in its gross win, while planned customer recruitment campaigns in the run up to major sporting events such as the World Cup resulted in a 32 per cent rise in operating costs.
In contrast, total operating costs for the company's telephone betting operation rose by just one per cent, while the total win for telephone gambling was 43 per cent.
Ladbrokes, which was known as the Hilton Group until earlier this year when it completed the sale of its hotel division, said that it had earned interest of £24 million on the proceeds of the sale.
Welcoming the company's performance, Ladbrokes chief executive Christopher Bell said: "We have had a positive start to the year and are trading in line with our expectations."
"As we approach the busiest part of the sporting year, with the Epsom Derby meeting, the World Cup in Germany and Royal Ascot to look forward to, I am confident about the prospects for the business."