Internet gambling surges
By Linda
Betting group Sportech posted a jump in half-year profits yesterday after a surge in demand for telephone and internet gambling.

Its Littlewoods Betdirect arm added 30,000 customers in the six months to June 30 to bring the total registered base up to 260,000.

Average stakes per telephone call rose 23 per cent to £33 and 25 per cent to £15 for internet bets, helping turnover in the operation surge 69pc to £39.9m.

Finance director Gary Speakman said the World Cup had added around £2m to group turnover. But, the main driver for growth came from the removal of betting duty.

He said, 'There is no doubt that October 2001 was a pivotal moment, not just because customers had a little bit more in their pockets to spend, but because it created a level playing field.

'We got back to competing and we're now taking market share.'

Overall, group turnover jumped 6pc to £96.7m while operating profits before oneoff costs surged 13pc to £9.7m.

This was despite a delay in the launch of the attheraces interactive television channel betting service.

Elsewhere, the group's Littlewoods football pools arm posted a 4pc jump in profits despite a slide in turnover and a failure to attract large numbers of new players.

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