PartyGaming on track despite World Cup

Online gaming firm PartyGaming today said its casino business had continued its strong growth despite the bigger than expected impact of the World Cup on its internet poker tables.

Online gaming firm PartyGaming today said its casino business had continued its strong growth despite the bigger than expected impact of the World Cup on its internet poker tables.

PartyCasino, which offers more than 50 games including slots, blackjack and roulette, grew revenues 6% against the first three months of 2010, although player numbers were down 5%.

The group said it was pleased with the "relatively robust" performance despite a "particularly tough" quarter for its PartyPoker card room - where revenues will be as much as 13% below the previous three months due to the impact of the tournament as well as warmer weather.

Overall group revenues will be 2% down quarter-on-quarter although unexpected World Cup results - including early exits for 2006 finalists France and Italy - provided a silver lining for its sports betting business.

PartyGaming added that its bingo and sports betting arms held revenues steady in a traditionally weaker quarter, while trading across the group was in line with expectations.

Shares bounced 7% on the news amid investor relief after worries from elsewhere in the sector over online poker. Rival 888 issued a profits warning at the end of May after an 18% decline in players between January to May, with management warning of declining industry-wide trends.

But PartyGaming remains confident in the strength of its poker brands such as the internationally renowned World Poker Tour, which the group bought last August and includes star players including Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey.

The group has also set itself up as an industry consolidator and while progress has been slower than expected, PartyGaming "continues to pursue opportunities with a number of parties".

Numis analyst Wyn Ellis said: "The commercial and financial logic of consolidation is compelling and we believe this reiterated commitment from Party will reassure investors.

"Second-quarter trading, enhanced by acquisitions, is modestly better than we had expected."

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