Arena hopes higher crowds will attract buyers

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The Independent Online

Racecourse operator Arena Leisure yesterday sought to tickle the fancy of potential bidders by unveiling an 11.3 per cent rise in attendances as it battles to replace lost revenues from a sharp fall in bookmaker funding. Reduced income from the levy on bookmakers' profits, which funds horse racing, was responsible for first half pre-tax profits coming in at only £0.5m, just over half the £0.9m posted the previous year.

Arena recently announced a "strategic review" which could lead to a possible bid. The Reuben Brothers, who own Northern Racing and are major shareholders in Arena, are known to be interested, but it has also emerged that SIS, the bookmaker- owned broadcaster, may be a potential buyer.

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