Stakes were higher at Ladbrokes

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Ladbrokes said punters staked nearly £13bn in its UK shops last year as the high street bookie continued to defy the economic squeeze.

Over-the-counter betting was “resilient”, the chain said, after it attracted wagers worth almost £2.5bn, while gaming machines drew almost £10.5bn from punters, an increase of 13.7 per cent on a year earlier.

Ladbrokes said profit per shop increased 6.9 per cent year-on-year and it posted overall operating profits of £193.5m, broadly flat on a year earlier after its digital division was hampered by poor trading in poker. In the company’s 2,000-strong shop estate, the amount left by punters using machines jumped 19 per cent to £360.9m but poor results in horse racing and football cut the over-the-counter gross win by 5.8 per cent to £392.8m.

The chain opened 50 new shops and closed 21. Despite the uncertain conditions, Ladbrokes is targeting 60 openings in 2012 under new shop formats which cater for changing trends by catering more for football, bet-in-play and machines.