UPDATE 1-Online gamer 888's earnings nearly double

March 27 Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:37am EDT

March 27 (Reuters) - British online gaming company 888 Holdings' full-year earnings nearly doubled, helped by strong growth of its casino and poker offering, and the company named Brian Mattingley as chief executive.

The company, which operates 888 casino, poker, sport and bingo brands, said it planned to invest in several newly regulated markets across Europe and the United States.

More Britons prefer to stay at home, watching TV and gambling online, updates from consumer-facing companies showed, amid fears that the UK will slip back into recession.

For 2011, the company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation rose 94 percent to $55.6 million. Revenue increased 26 percent to $331.1 million.

Last month, Britain's second-biggest bookmaker Ladbrokes , which pulled out of talks to buy 888 and Sportingbet last year, posted a strong full-year profit helped by sales growth in gambling machines.

Former CEO Gigi Levy stepped down in April last year. Media reports had said that Levy was frustrated with the slow progress of the potential takeover by Ladbrokes, but 888 had said that was not the case.

The company's shares, which have risen 4 percent since last month when the company forecast its 2011 revenue, were trading up 5 percent at 62.5 pence at 0802 GMT on Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange.