Irish bookmaker benefits from English football defeats

Poor results for English teams in this season's Champions League have helped Irish bookmaker Paddy Power fight back from a summer plauged by horse racing cancellations and the distraction of the Olympics.

Its better-than-expected gross win over recent weeks also reflected 19-1 shot, Green Moon's win in this month's Melbourne Cup.

The Dublin-based group described conditions on the high street as competitive but said it now expects to open 45 shops this year, compared with previous plans for between 35 and 40.

Its 200-strong UK shop estate achieved revenues growth of 5% on a like-for-like basis in the period since July 1, helped by 12% growth in its sportsbook as more results went in its favour, boosting the gross win.

The company also said its Irish retail business "performed positively" seeing like-for-like stakes up 0.4% and net revenues up 8%.

As well as losing bets on England's Champions League teams, underdog Norwich's 1-0 win over Arsenal last month was a big result after accumulators were built up on seven Premier League favourites earlier that day.

The amounts staked by punters was up 9% in Paddy Power shops, although it also reported a 4% drop in revenues from gaming machines.

Across the group, net revenues were 23% higher between July and mid-November, with trading in Australia particularly strong and its online operation also seeing strong demand for sports bets.

The improvement came despite the impact of a number of external factors, such as weather-related horse racing cancellations and the Olympics.

The company's half-year profits rose 21% in August after PR stunts during Euro 2012 helped it to take €78m in bets.

Its 100ft high statue modelled on Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer with England manager Roy Hodgson's face and giant working "vuvutruck" in response to Uefa's banning of vuvuzelas helped it to exploit the tournament.

James Ainley, analyst at Citi, said a strong performance in Australia had offset a slightly disappointing performance in the European business.

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