UPDATE 1-Gaming group 888 sees profit almost double

Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:30am EDT

LONDON Aug 29 (Reuters) - British online gaming company 888 Holdings said its first-half earnings nearly doubled, helped by the strong growth of its casino and poker products, leading the firm to reinstate its interim dividend.

The company, which operates 888 casino, poker, sport and bingo brands, on Wednesday said its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 81 percent to $36 million in the six months to the end of June. Revenue rose 21 percent to $186.4 million.

888, which reinstated the interim dividend at 2.5 cents per share, said it planned to invest in several newly regulated markets across Europe and the United States during the remainder of 2012.

"The second half of the year will see increased investment in Spain, where we will attempt to build on our market share, and also in the United States, where we are preparing for regulatory changes," said chief executive Brian Mattingley.

"We will also continue to invest in our technological platform, the cornerstone of our offer, and make improvements to our mobile channel."

Earlier this year Spain awarded online gaming licences to several gaming companies including 888, which removed regulatory uncertainty hanging over operators.

Shares in 888, which have risen 80 percent in 2012, closed at 82.5 pence on Tuesday, valuing the business at around 270 million pounds ($427.40 million).