A Record Quarter for Sportingbet

2 April 2004

U.K.-based Sportingbet yesterday announced a record increase in quarterly profits, sending its stock up 4 percent.

The company, which trades on the AIM, expects a 90 percent increase in quarterly profit, exceeding its goals for the period ending March 31. It expects operating profit before amortization to be no less than £7.6 million against £4 million at the same stage last year.

Chief Executive Nigel Payne attributed the increase to a 49 percent rise in sports bets placed with the group during the period.

"Our business is booming all over the world as people become more aware of Internet betting," he said. "It genuinely is a global industry and we are taking root in other areas."

Yearly profits for the full four quarters are also expected to exceed expectations, Payne said. Forecast figures going into the year had profit reaching £18 million,but early indications are that profit could exceed £19.5 million, compared to £14.6 million the previous year.

As awareness of online gambling continues to grow around the world, Payne explained, so does the number of options available to the consumer. Sportingbet, he said, has seen a dramatic increase in users, while the amount of bets placed remained steady.

"The industry is becoming a leisure entertainment business," he said. "It's not just sports betting; there is poker, bingo and virtual games."

Payne also indicated that the passage of a proposed new tax structure (included in the draft of the U.K. Gambling Bill) would likely keep the Sportingbet offshore. The company has offices in London, but operates out of Antigua and Alderney.