Online betting and gaming group Leisure & Gaming plc published results for the first half of 2009 this week, showing good growth from the corresponding period in 2008, and pre-tax profit up Euro 500 000 at Euro 1.8 million (H1 2008: GBP 1.3 million) on earning net win of Euro 13.9 million (2008: Euro 11.5 million).

“Current trading since 1 July, in the seasonally quiet third quarter, is ahead of management's expectations with poker continuing at higher levels than expected and as such, the Group is currently confident as regards trading in the second half of the year,” said a company statement.

Amounts wagered grew 52 percent to Euro 61 million (H1 2008: Euro 40.2 million) reported chief executive Richard Creed, adding that gross profit is also up, having risen 18 percent to Euro 4 million.

Net win margin declined 5.8 percent on last year's H1 number to 22.8 percent, which was attributed to the company's expansion into the online poker sector, which generally delivers lower margins than sportsbetting. Creed revealed that poker gross tournament fees now account for nearly half of the group's Italian volumes.

“The enormous success of poker in Italy provides more secure earnings, albeit at a lower margin than in sports betting and higher than expected volumes have continued through the summer months,” said Creed.

EBITDA rose 36 percent to Euro 1.9 million (H1 2008: Euro 1.4 million), whilst overheads were largely well contained and grew only Euro 100 000.

“We approach the new soccer season in good shape with a stable partner network and sponsorship initiatives generating interest,” said Creed.

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