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Bookmaking firm Ladbrokes announces 57% drop in earnings

By Holly Williams

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has disclosed a 57% plunge in third quarter earnings after being hit by higher gaming taxes and costs of a major marketing push.

The group, which has 20 stores in Northern Ireland, is waiting for regulatory clearance for a £2.3bn mega-merger with rival Gala Coral. It said UK revenues fell 0.7% in the three months to the end of September compared with a year earlier, when it was boosted by the football World Cup. Stripping this out, revenues were 2% higher.

Ladbrokes posted underlying earnings of £14.3m, less than half the £33m seen a year earlier, but stressed this reflected investment in a turnaround plan launched earlier this year.

Jim Mullen, chief executive of Ladbrokes, said: "These numbers reflect the first 68 days of activity since we announced our organic plan to aggressively invest and grow our recreational and multi-channel customer base, particularly across UK retail, Ladbrokes.com and Ladbrokes Australia. It is early in our journey, but today's results reflect positive initial progress."

Its merger with Gala Coral will form a gambling giant with more than 4,000 shops and will see it overtake the UK's biggest bookmaker, William Hill. It comes amid a wave of consolidation in the sector, with Irish chain Paddy Power and online gambling group Betfair also set to join forces.

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