£100m drop in wagers hits Sportingbet

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The Independent Online

A lull in sporting events after the Olympic Games saw gamblers' wagers fall by nearly £100m in the three months to October at the takeover target Sportingbet, the online betting company which owns Paradise Poker.

Its revenues also fell 35 per cent, which will worry William Hill. The bookmakers, alongside European gaming group GVC, has tabled an offer of more than £400m for Sportingbet, which was founded 15 years ago. The Sportingbet board, led by chief executive, Andy McIver, said last month it backed the bid after rejecting an initial £350m offer as "undervaluing" the company.

Under Takeover Panel rules, William Hill must make a formal offer next week. McIver said November's figures would be better, largely due to results on the other side of the world. Australian Derby Day, which attracted big-name guests such as film star Nicole Kidman and Prince Charles, is one of the most important events in the country's sporting calendar.

In Europe, gambling in struggling Greece and Spain fell significantly. However, Mr McIver insisted that overall annual results for the 12 months to next July should broadly hit market expectations.