he in-play specialist’s adjusted operating profit grew 8% to us$ 16.7, from us$ 15.5 million.
Chief executive Andy McIver said: “The second quarter is a busy time in the sporting calendar and consequently a material period in the Group's financial year. As such it is very pleasing to report results in line with our full-year plan, particularly given the recessionary backdrop in many of our markets.”
Amount wagered on sports in Europe during the period increased 27% year-on-year (YoY) to us$ 436.8 million, from us$ 344.5 million; with in-play betting accounted for 60% of the total value of bets placed in the region. Amounts wagered on live betting in that market increased 44% year on year, generating total NGR of us$ 27.1 million and equating to a gross margin of 10.2%. European casino and games gross revenue also performed solidly, growing 10% YoY to us$ 19.2 million, from us$ 17.4 million.
The Western Europe sub-region proved the star performer, revenue growing 26% YoY. This was driven by 93% growth in the group's German business, balanced against resilient growth at the company’s Greek and Spanish businesses in the face of recession, where revenues grew 13% and 11% respectively.
Eastern Europe however performed less strongly, NGR declining by 4%. There was strong growth the group’s Australia business, where relaxation of Australian advertising regulations in September 2008 continued to drive revenues and customer acquisition.
Amounts wagered in Australian increased 27% YoY, from us$ 226.6 million to us$ 286.6 million, while active customer numbers rose by 8%. Football bets continued to dominate those placed, representing 64% of Sportingbet’s overall sports revenue and 77% of European sports revenue during the quarter.
The group’s quarterly performance took the operator’s NGR for the first half of the year to us$ 151.1 million, a 24% rise on the us$ 121.9 million recorded for the same period last year. On the regulatory front, Sportingbet said it continued to monitor developments in France, which contributes 3.5% of Sportingbet’s NGR, and Norway, which contributes less than 0.5% of group NGR.
With Norway due to enforce legislation prohibiting payment processing to online gaming operators not licensed in Norway on 1 June 2010, the board said it would make a decision regarding its strategy regarding that territory in advance of that date. “Good progress” is being made in Sportingbet’s move from the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) to the London Stock Exchange’s main list, the company said in a statement.