The UK publication Crane's Manchester Business reports that brothers Fred and Peter Done are through with online gambling, having sold their online gambling operation, BetFred, to an undisclosed buyer, netting some GBP 27.2 million from the sale.

Crane's claims that the Internet gaming division Betfred NV, registered in the Netherlands Antilles, had been underperforming for a number of years after a belated entry to the market, and the company said the disposal made "commercial sense." The sale of Betfred NV's share capital netted the Done brothers GBP 27.2 million, according to recently-filed accounts for Lightcatch Ltd, the parent company of their gambling and sports interests.

The online casino gaming operation will apparently remain on the website and the group has not sold its Web-based sports operation which takes bets on live sporting events.

The Crane's article reports that Fred Done admitted he had entered the online gambling sector late, starting his company in 2005. In the six months it was still part of Lightcatch, it only generated GBP 2.3 million in operating profit on a GBP 4.5 million turnover. In its last full year in 2007 it made operating profit of GBP 3.3 million on GBP 9.2 million turnover.

Betfred's financial director, Barry Nightingale, said the deal was sealed in 2008, but declined to identify the buyer, saying: "We have sold the online business, but we're bound by the terms of the deal not to reveal any more details. It made commercial sense, but with our new partners the Betfred brand will continue to go from strength to strength in the online arena."

Group sales jumped from GBP 949.1 million to GBP 1.1 billion in the year to March 2008 while operating profits climbed 22.7 percent to GBP 13.2 million. The figures include bets placed over the Web and phone.

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