Stanley hit by 'Dettori effect'

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The Independent Online
Frankie Dettori's seven consecutive wins at Ascot last year cost Stanley Leisure pounds 2m out of a total hit to the industry of pounds 30m, the betting shops to casinos group said yesterday. Describing it as "the worst day ever in the UK bookmaking business", the chairman, Leonard Steinberg, said one of the group's Gus Carter shops paid out pounds 235,000 on a single bet. The "Dettori effect", as Mr Steinberg called it, resulted in two payouts of more than pounds 200,000, another over pounds 100,000 and 27 payments of more than pounds 10,000.

Details of the industry's Black Saturday emerged as Stanley announced a 21 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for the half year to October from pounds 6.1m to pounds 7.4m. Striking a confident note about proposed changes in proposals to deregulate the betting industry, Mr Steinberg signalled a 20 per cent rise in the interim dividend to 1.2p a share.

Planned changes includeopening up 20 regions around the country to casinos. Stanley said it would be interested in making applications for seven or eight of these and would hope to be licensed to open casinos in at least three new sites.

Turnover in the casinos arm increased by 7.7 per cent with profits up almost 12 per cent to pounds 5.2m. Stanley's 533 betting shops, where profits rose from pounds 2.8m to pounds 4m, continued to slug it out with the National Lottery. Much of the improvement related to acquisitions, however, and analysts said like-for-like sales growth of 3 per cent was disappointing.

Investment column, page 22