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Betfair profits jump as new punters flock in

Online gambling company Betfair posted a better than expected rise in full-year profit yesterday, led by strong revenue growth and a big surge in new customers.

The company, whose main exchange product allows gamblers to bet against each other, said core profit for the year to April 30 rose 32 per cent to £120.2 million, ahead of raised guidance of £113-118 million given by the firm in March.

Revenue grew 21 per cent to £476.5 million pounds with double digit growth across sports, gaming and Betfair US. New customers rose by 65 per cent on the back of strong marketing, new products and a boost from the 2014 football World Cup.

Active customers increased by half to 1.7 million.

Betfair has benefited from a slimmed operation focussed on more secure markets and higher product and marketing spend, while growth has also been boosted by avoiding heavy costs and regulations associated with betting shops that rivals such as William Hill and Ladbrokes contend with.

Future profits however will be hit by a new UK tax on profits from bets made by its UK-based customers, which crimped full-year income by £19 million. The move closed a loophole that allowed bookmakers to minimise tax bills on online earnings by basing operations offshore in places like Gibraltar.

Betfair said it was upbeat on prospects despite the new tax regime. Current trading was good, the firm said, adding it was confident of delivering on expectations for its new fiscal year.

Shares in Betfair closed at 2,514 pence on Tuesday, having reached a record high of 2,724p earlier this month.

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