Ladbrokes released disappointing numbers for the 4 first 4 months of 2009 ended April, reporting a 34 percent overall decline in pre-tax profits. The UK land and online gambling group blamed the "abnormal" gross win margin in March and an increase in free bets offered to new customers, but added that the statistics for May showed a return to "more normal trends".
The results included those for the online gambling division, where there was strong competition and net revenues were down 2 percent, making it unlikely that the division would make its circa GBP 85 million profit target. Lower yields from online poker players took the shine off a 14 percent increase in active players and an overall increase in signups of 10 percent, probably occasioned by the poker operations being assimilated into the Microgaming Poker Network in February 2009.
Across the wider group, punters had the best of it, costing the company dearly in winnings, whilst telephone betting profit fell 54 percent, and profit before interest, tax and non-trading items from high rollers fell to GBP 25 million compared to GBP 40 million last year. Since the beginning of May, Ladbrokes has made a further GBP 17 million profit from high rollers.
Group gross win was in line with expectations up until February, but March proved highly profitable for the gamblers. Since then gross win rose 5 percent.
The company warned in a statement that whilst it remained confident for 2009 full year positive results, weaker economic conditions and softening yields make it unlikely that it will achieve the growth necessary to reach its previously forecast profitability target in 2010”.
Ladbroke chief executive Chris Bell said: "While it is difficult to predict future staking levels in the current economic climate, the general resilience of our business and strong cost control gives us confidence in the outturn for the full year."