Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 07:53 UK

Ladbrokes hurt by lucky punters

Grand National winner Mon Mome with jockey Liam Treadwell
Ladbrokes said it benefitted from the Grand National

Betting firm Ladbrokes says profits have fallen this year as its customers got lucky in March.

Ladbrokes said that group profit for the four months to the end of April, declined 34%.

It said that March proved to be "highly profitable" for its customers, particularly those who attended the Cheltenham festival.

But it said it benefitted from the Grand National, when outsider Mon Mome won the race at odds of 100-1.

Victory by any of the leading contenders would have meant bigger payouts by bookmakers.

About £250m is thought to be wagered on the race, the majority of which goes on the favourites.

Despite the decline in profit, which Ladbrokes blamed on an "abnormal" win margin, the company was still upbeat.

"While it is difficult to predict future staking levels in the current economic climate, the general resilience of our business and strong cost control gives us confidence in the outturn for the full year," said Chris Bell, Ladbrokes' chief executive.

The company did not provide exact figures in the interim management statement.

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