Ladbrokes eyes supercasino

London (Reuters) – Ladbrokes Plc posted an annual pretax profit of 246.5 million pounds on Thursday and said it was interested in running Britain’s first Las Vegas-style supercasino.

The firm said profit before tax and non-trading items rose to 246.5 million pounds from 232.1 million a year ago, with earnings per share reaching 22 pence compared with 12p last year.

Ladbrokes added that it would also bid for some of smaller casinos up for grabs and it was still in talks to take over online gaming firm 888.

„We commenced discussions with 888 last November. These discussions continue and are complex because of the current conditions in the U.S.,“ chairman Ian Robinson said in a statement.

Last month, Manchester was the surprise winner of a competition to host the supercasino, which although still relatively small by Las Vegas standards, is likely to be huge in UK terms, with 5,000 square metres of gaming space, 1,250 slot machines and 2,700 workers.

Sixteen other towns and cities will also get new casinos although far smaller than the Manchester venue.

Ladbrokes recently secured 142 new Italian betting licences and is also pursuing further licences in Spain as it looks to the two countries to fresh drive growth.

„We expect our International channel to contribute 20 to 40 million pounds EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) per annum over the next three to five years and Italy and Spain will be central to this guidance.“ Ladbrokes said.

The firm said it would pay a final dividend of 8.6 pence per share.