August 31, 2017 / 6:56 AM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Online betting boosts profits for Ladbrokes Coral

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Aug 31 (Reuters) - British betting company Ladbrokes Coral Group reported a 7 percent rise in first-half operating profit on Thursday driven by strong trading online.

The company said operating profit for the six months to June 30 rose to 158.8 million pounds ($205.1 million).

Revenue rose 1 percent to 1.19 billion pounds.

The company was formed last year when Ladbrokes joined forces with Coral in a $3.4 billion merger. Sources said last week that online gambling company GVC had recently discussed a takeover of the group but talks ended without a deal.

Britain’s gambling sector has been transformed by a wave of deals as companies try to bulk up so that they can absorb the rising costs of stricter regulation and higher taxation.

The merger of Ladbrokes and Coral was one of a number in the sector, with Paddy Power and Betfair also having joined forces.

Ladbrokes has been trying to strengthen its online gambling offering as a possible crackdown by the government on betting terminals in high street shops threatens to hit its retail operations.

Online revenue, a key focus area for the company, rose 17 percent to 374.5 million pounds with big increases in Britain, Italy and Australia.

Revenue from retail operation in the UK fell 6 percent with a 7 percent decline in comparable over-the-counter staking.

Ladbrokes Coral trades from over 3,500 shops across England, Wales and Scotland under the Ladbrokes and Coral brands.

$1 = 0.7743 pounds Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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