The normally buoyant sports betting margins at Swedish online gambling group Betsson recorded a first half 2.6 percentage point decline in the six months to June 30 2009, dropping from 10.5 percent to 7.9 percent.

Management blamed a run of sports results that favoured the player rather than the operator for the decline, which was also apparent in the quarterly numbers, where a 9.8 percent margin slipped to 4.7 percent.

Betsson chief executive Pontus Lindwall remained optimistic, however, commenting that customer action and deposits had never been higher than in the second quarter, indicating solid growth.

H1 2009 revenues were up 29 percent to SEK 600 million ($80 million), from SEK 464.7 million in H1 2008, and on a quarterly basis were up 20 percent to SEK 284.6 million (Q2 2008: SEK236.9 million).

There was a slight one percent increase in pre-tax profit to SEK 62 million over the quarter and a 22 percent rise to SEK145 million over the first half of the year.

Deposits by the punters grew by 32 percent during the second quarter and gross sportsbook turnover rose 73 percent to SEK 644.8 million (Q2 2008: SEK373.2 million).

The Malta-based scratch card games developer Neo Games has signed an agreement with Betsson which will see the integration of this style of instant win games on the Betsson platform, management revealed. Betsson will launch a white label platform in partnership with Nordic Entertainment to exploit the format.

70 percent of total gross profit for Q2 2009 came from casino operations, up 10 percent on the same period last year. Poker saw a decline, from 19 percent last year to 14.2 percent this time, and sportsbetting contributed 11.5 percent of gross profits, nicely up on the 7.5 percent recorded in the Q2 2008.

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