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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Empire Online mulling expansion
Poker table
Empire says it is attracting new players to its online gaming
Internet gaming firm Empire Online has hinted that it is looking to expand in 2006 through mergers and takeovers.

The firm, which owns the Noble Poker and Club Dice internet poker and casino sites, made the comments as it reported a 57% rise in annual profits.

Empire said pre-tax profits were $41.2m (23.5m) during 2005, up from $26.2m the year before.

Chief executive Noam Lanir said the company had "flexibility" to pursue "merger and acquisition activity".

Revenues up

Empire said that at online casino site Club Dice, net revenue a day averaged $79,946 during the fourth quarter of 2005, up 22.4% on the third quarter.

At Noble Poker, active players were up to 29,585 by the end of the fourth quarter of 2005, having increased 36% since the end of the third quarter.

Empire added that it had gained an average of 450 new "real money" players each day during the first few weeks of March.

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