Climate Change for Online Casino
By James Mc
Internet gambling group, Empire Online, is to delay its acquisition strategy amid growing fears over the industry’s future following the arrests of executives from BetOnSports, Sportingbet and Austria’s Bwin.

The company which has $250 million (£130 million) available for acquisitions after the sale in February of its poker site to PartyGaming, announced that profits after amortisation and non-recurring charges, but before tax, had risen to $253.1 million from $21.2 million last year.

Its casino revenues nearly trebled to $30.2 million, while poker revenues plummeted to just $8 million from $39 million a year ago after the sale of Empire Poker. Net gaming revenues for the six months to the end of June fell to $38.2 million, compared with $49.7 million for the same period last year.

In a statement the company also warned investors that the traditional trading slowdown in the second quarter had been harsher than forecasted, with player registrations running at a disappointing 250 per day.

'While the board expects the outcome for the current year to be broadly in line with market expectations, if there is no improvement in this rate of sign ups, earnings growth for 2007 will be challenging,' it said.

Company shares on the London Stock Exchange closed up 3½p at 64p.

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