Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Ladbrokes says betting holding up

Ladbrokes sign
Ladbrokes says people are still having a flutter

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has seen its annual profits edge up, despite the wider economic slowdown.

Operating profits for the group reached 243.8m in the twelve months to 31 December 2008 - an increase of 0.9% on the previous year.

The firm's chief executive Christopher Bell said a rise in internet gaming had contributed to the company's success.

The results were slightly ahead of market forecasts, sending shares in the firm up 5.7% in early afternoon trade.

Betting is often considered to be more resilient to recessions than other leisure activities, because of the habitual nature of gambling and the fact that most bets are quite small, with the average bet below 10.

"People still like going to have a few pounds on a bet," said Mr Bell.

The amount bet by so called high rollers - those who place five figure sums on individual bets - contributed 80.1m of operating profit to the group.

However, Ladbrokes added that trade in the first six weeks of this year had been adversely affected by bad weather.

Snow caused numerous race cancellations and between two and three hundred shops had to be closed as staff struggled to get to work.

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