PartyGaming results in-line, merger on track

LONDON (Reuters) – Online gambling group PartyGaming (PRTY.L: Quote, Profile, Research) posted a rise in full year underlying earnings and said it was confident going into 2011 despite a shifting regulatory environment.

The FTSE 250 company also said its merger with Austria’s bwin (BWIN.VI: Quote, Profile, Research) was on track for conclusion later this month.

For the year ended December 31, Partygaming’s underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came in at 100 million euros, up from 94 million last year, and in line with analysts’ expectations.

Revenues were 15 percent higher at 357 million euros, with a soft performance in its poker operations such as PartyPoker.com offset by strong growth in its casino and sports betting.

The in-line performance had continued into the first two months of 2011, the company said, with average daily revenue and new poker player sign-ups slightly up on the last quarter.

PartyGaming said it was well-placed to benefit from any opening up of the market, where it has been shut out since online gaming was effectively outlawed in 2006.

“In the U.S. we believe there is growing political and commercial will to regulate online gaming and that we are well-positioned to exploit our strong franchise in that market should regulations allow,” said the group’s Chief Executive Jim Ryan.

Shares in the company closed at 175 pence on Wednesday, valuing it at 715.9 million pounds ($1.17 billion).

(Reporting by Isabel Coles, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)