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08 February 2010

Punter boosts gaming firm's profits

A punter who pumped almost half of a £3.1m jackpot win back into slot machine games has helped to boost the revenues of online betting firm PartyGaming.

The anonymous player scooped the roll-over prize on PartyCasino after it overhauled jackpot rules earlier in the year to tempt in punters with bigger payouts.

The recycled winnings helped the company push up fourth-quarter revenues 32%, while the sports betting business gained from a higher number of draws after a historic low at the start of the Premier League football season.

The PartyPoker owner said all four of its divisions - poker, casino games, bingo and sports betting - showed growth in the three months to December 31 as revenues jumped by almost a third to £87.2 million over a year earlier.

Shares rose 3% on Wednesday as the firm said underlying earnings for 2009 as a whole would be "slightly ahead" of board expectations.

The fourth quarter is traditionally better for the online gaming sites due to poorer weather but the firm added that casino and sports betting revenues had been "particularly strong".

The group's PartyPoker website - which had 438,000 active players during the three months to December - now boasts the biggest pool of players behind PokerStars and Full Tilt.

The business is also eyeing growth opportunities in Europe this year as well as potential acquisitions and mergers. The company was reported in December to be in talks over a potential merger with Austrian rival Bwin, which would create a £2 billion internet gaming giant.

Chief executive Jim Ryan said: "With some of the world's largest gaming sites in poker, casino and bingo, and opportunities to further consolidate the online gaming sector, we are confident about our future prospects."

Investec analyst Matthew Gerard said: "An increasing focus on casino and bingo will drive robust revenue growth."

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