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Paddy Power Says Gains on Internet Offset Ireland

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May 18 (Bloomberg) -- Paddy Power Plc, Ireland’s biggest bookmaker, said gains on the Internet offset a decline in business at Irish betting shops, giving it “confidence” for the rest of the year.

Gross win on the Internet, or the amounts lost by gamblers, grew by 32 percent in the year through May 16, the Dublin-based company said today in a statement on the Regulatory News Service. Irish retail gross win dropped 6 percent.

Paddy Power is trying to expand its Internet and overseas operations to compensate for declines at Irish betting shops. It aims to have at least 150 shops in the U.K. by 2011 and last year acquired interests in Sportsbet Pty Ltd. and International All Sports Ltd. to expand in Australia.

“Internet has been the star of the show,” Finance Director Jack Massey said in a telephone interview. In Ireland, “it’s been a difficult market, but we’re gaining share and we think we’ll come out in good shape.”

Paddy Power was unchanged at 26 euros after earlier gaining as much as 3.5 percent. The shares have risen 5 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 1.25 billion euros ($1.55 billion).

The company generated 85 percent of its operating profit over the Internet in the second half of 2009, though 75 percent is more typical, Massey said.

Paddy Power expects the World Cup soccer tournament, which starts June 11, will generate about 5 million euros in gross win, from about 60 million euros wagered, Massey said. The amounts wagered should be at least double those from last year’s European Championship, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Altaner in London at daltaner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge in London at Ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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