A boost from World Cup betting failed to prevent a slide in profits at Ladbrokes as the bookmaker counted the cost of unfavourable sporting results. The group, which has more than 2,200 betting shops in the UK, was also hit by its race to roll out new machines and services in time for the tournament.
Ladbrokes posted profits of £27.7m for the first six months of the year, a decline of 49.7% on a year earlier. The company said it took bets worth £115.3m during the tournament, a rise of 22.4% on four years ago.
Half-year operating profits from its UK retail estate fell 21% after some difficult trading weeks, particularly for football in January and the higher than average percentage of winning horse favourites.
It said: "The major flat festivals in the period at Epsom and Ascot were particularly customer-friendly with Ascot seeing 14 winning favourites in 30 races." Horse racing struggles to attract younger betting customers and Ladbrokes said staking declined in the latter part of the first half, particularly during the World Cup.