Cheltenham eats into Ladbrokes Ireland progress

British bookmaker Ladbrokes has seen a tough start to the year across its Irish operations, with horse racing results - particularly at last month's Cheltenham festival - going against it.

Online bingo and poker provider GVC Holdings, which acquired Ladbrokes-Coral for €4.6bn last year - said its net gaming revenue grew by 8%, year-on-year, in the first quarter.

However, its bookmakers arm fared less well. Revenue in GVC's core UK retail arm - basically Ladbrokes-Coral shops and online - was flat on a like-for-like basis and results ate into revenues in its Irish Ladbrokes stores.

"In Ireland there was good stakes growth but results were poor, in particular in horse racing - and in particular there is an overweight impact of Cheltenham, which wasn't great, in Irish retail," a spokesperson said.

Last month, GVC said it was considering moving some of its computer servers - which facilitate its various gaming products such as PartyCasino, Foxy Bingo and PartyPoker - to Ireland as a contingency measure in case Britain crashes out of the EU with no transition deal agreed.

Such a move, however, is not expected to result in any new jobs being created here.

In its annual results for 2018, GVC said Ladbrokes Ireland grew revenues by 10%.

In the first quarter of this year, revenue at Ladbrokes' European retail business - which comprises shops in the UK, Ireland and Belgium, as well as the Eurobet chain in Italy - grew by 2%.

GVC said it was seeing the benefit of both geographic and product diversification across its group of businesses.

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