Stanley suffers from punter caution

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The Independent Online
STANLEY Leisure, the betting shop and casino operator, has seen profits fall in what its chairman called the worst trading period of his life, writes Robert Cole.

Stanley made pounds 3.5m pre-tax profits in the six months to 1 November, down from pounds 3.7m previously.

Leonard Steinberg, chairman, said: 'The first six months of this trading year were the most difficult I have experienced in 38 years in the gaming industry.'

Problems stemmed from the scarcity of spare cash in punters' pockets. The size of the average bet in the bookmakers barely moved, at pounds 3.40 against pounds 3.38, and the average spend in the casinos stuck at pounds 84. Difficulties were exacerbated by a period in mid- summer when racing results went against the management.

Turnover increased to pounds 108m from pounds 100m, but only because Stanley enlarged its chain of turf accounting offices. In Scotland next month, Stanley takes possesion of 26 new sites currently owned by Surrey Racing.

Earnings per share fell to 5.48p from 5.82p. The dividend, after adjusting for a bonus issue of shares in September, was unchanged at 1.52p.

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