Gaming company 32Red to launch in Italy
LONDON (Reuters) - Online gaming company 32Red Plc said revenues rose 22 percent in July and August despite having to compete for attention with the Olympics and confirmed it would launch in Italy before the end of the year.
32Red plans to offer casino, poker and bingo to Italian customers, the first time the Gibraltar-based company has expanded beyond its core British market since its launch in 2002.
"While we continue to focus on our core market of the UK, we look forward to utilizing out Italian license to expand the profile of the brand and to grow business in another regulated market," CEO Ed Ware said in a statement.
32Red is following the example of larger rivals William Hill and Paddy Power by launching online casinos in Italy, one of the biggest gambling markets in the world.
Revenues in the first half of the year rose 50 percent to 16.5 million pounds ($26.21 million), while EBITDA before share option costs and exceptional items was up 12 percent to 1.7 million pounds.
Spending on marketing to recruit new customers means that the revenue rise does not translate directly into increased profit. 32Red boosts its brand through shirt sponsorship of Premier League soccer club Swansea City.
CEO Ware described the first half as strong.
"This performance has continued during the first 2 months of the second half of the year, despite the excitement and distraction of the Olympic Games," he added.
The company reported exceptional costs of 59,000 pounds from a successful court case involving a trade mark dispute with William Hill, Britain's biggest bookmaker.
The costs associated with the case were 129,000 pounds and the company has received an initial payment of 70,000 pounds.
A hearing next year is expected to settle the level of damages and liability for costs associated with original hearing in 2010.
($1 = 0.6295 British pounds)
(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Kate Holton; 44 20 7542 8022)
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