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888 Online Casino Year Profits Up.

The internet gaming group 888 has posted a 16% increase in year pretax profit and also made mention of its confidence in the outlook for 2006.

Profit before tax was $50.2 million (£28.7 million in 2005), compared to $43.1 million in 2004, it said.

Casino players increased 28% to 4.1 million, while poker players more than doubled to 1.5 million. 888 spent much of the year tryng to increase its worldwide market and diversifying away from the United States and reducing the US share of revenues to 55% from 58% in 2004.

Chief Executive, John Anderson, said, “To rely on one country too much is not good, and without reducing volumes, I'd like to get the percentage we're taking from the US down to 20-30% as soon as we can.”

Anderson also commented that the company was still looking to buy a sports betting operation and had one particular acquisition in mind, although the two companies had not yet held any talks.

Group gaming revenues were up 52% in 2005 to $271 million.

Shares in 888 closed at 179-1/2 pence on Wednesday, valuing the group at slightly more than £600 million.
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