Belfast Telegraph

Ladbrokes Coral revenues hit by slump in over-the-counter wagers

Bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral has said tough high street conditions are hitting its betting shops, while sporting results "gave with one hand and took with the other" in a turbulent start to the year.

The group saw a 7% plunge in bets made over the counter in its shops between January 1 and April 23 amid a "challenging" retail environment and as it focuses on online betting.

A better performance from machines in its betting shops left overall net revenues 2% lower across the chain.

Chief executive Jim Mullen said over-the-counter stakes " continue to exhibit the negative trends reported since the middle of 2016, driven by the challenging UK high street environment and our own focus on the multi-channel opportunity".

Online betting turnover surged 22%, helping overall net revenues lift 5%, or 2% higher with currency effects stripped out.

The group, formed from the £2.3 billion merger of Ladbrokes and Coral in November, also reported back on a mixed set of sporting results, with One for Arthur's victory in the Grand National last month breaking a five-year run of bookmaker-friendly results in the race.

It added the amount it earned from the Aintree event was also behind last year, while a better January and February for football results was later reversed, with last month particularly bad as April 4 saw 14 out of 15 of the best-backed teams win.

Mr Mullen said: "Sporting results in the UK gave with one hand and took with the other but we are probably marginally ahead overall."

Its European betting business suffered a difficult start to the year, with net revenues down 15% on a constant currency basis after an "unusually bad" set of sports results in Italy.

Ladbrokes added the online market remains "highly competitive", but said there was an industry-wide push to keep existing customers.

Shares fell 4% after the update.