BUSINESS

Gala Coral’s flat Q2; Camelot after judicial review; Playtech placates Hindus

TAGs: Camelot, Gala Coral, gala coral group, gambling commission, Playtech

gala-coral-playtech-hindu-camelotGala Coral Group saw gross profit rise across all divisions in the 12 weeks ending April 7, but earnings were flat in the second quarter of its fiscal year. Group turnover was up 3% to £284.4m and gross profit up 4% to £220.6m, but EBITDA was £71.8m, a mere £300k improvement over Q2 2011. The company blames bad weather, February’s snow in particular, for a £2.2m reduction in earnings, and another £1.4m from the fact that this year’s Grand National fell in the first week of FY12’s Q3, rather than Q2 in 2011. Performance at the group’s two online divisions was strong: Gala Interactive (galabingo.com and galacasino.co.uk) saw active customers rise 39% while Coral Interactive (coral.co.uk and telephone betting operation Telebet) saw active customers rise 9% and amounts staked rise 45%. Together, the online divisions’ gross profit rose 4% to £17.1m.

UK National Lottery operator Camelot has confirmed it will apply for a judicial review of the Gambling Commission’s decision to approve the licensing of Richard Desmond’s Health Lottery. Camelot requested the review based on its belief that the Health Lottery engaged in some ‘creative’ business structuring to get around the 2005 Gambling Act’s prohibition of a true competitor to the National Lottery. Camelot believes the Health Lottery is a nation-spanning lottery disguised as a network of 51 regional (allegedly) independent lotteries to skirt the 12% duty Camelot’s offering is required to remit. [The Daily Mail originally reported the review had been granted for July 11, but that’s only the date on which Camelot will file its application.]

Online gaming software developers Playtech have reportedly withdrawn their Lakshmi Gold online slot following Hindu protests. The slot, which incorporated images of Hindu deities into the game play, prompted Hindu leaders to publicly denounce Playtech for appropriating their religion to fatten the company’s bottom line. Rajan Zed, the Nevada-based Hindu leader who spearheaded the protest, issued a statement on Saturday describing the company’s decision to yank the game as “a step in the right direction” but maintains that someone from Playtech owes them a public apology. So will Playtech’s publicity-shy majority stakeholder Teddy Sagi step up to the microphone, or will he risk having his dreams forever haunted by Bhairava, the vengeful manifestation of Lord Shiva, clutching the severed fifth head of Brahma in one hand, another hand raising his bladed weapon as he approaches Teddy’s bed. Cue girlish shrieks in 3… 2… 1…

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