Shortage of sporting fixtures sees wagers on Sportingbet take a fall

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Gaming firm Sportingbet today said wagers on sport events had taken a dive in its first quarter as the number of fixtures declined.

The group, which is the target of a takeover bid by Britain’s biggest bookmaker, William Hill, posted a 35 per cent drop in revenue to £38.8 million between 1 August and 31 October, as betting numbers dropped.

But chief executive Andrew McIver said this month’s trading had returned to normal and he was confident it is on target to meet expectations for the year.

Sportingbet last month backed a takeover offer from William Hill and said it would unanimously recommended a 61.1p per share proposal to its shareholders.

William Hill, in a joint proposal with European gaming company GVC, previously offered 52.2p a share, which valued Sportingbet at around £350m.

But Sportingbet, which was founded in 1997 and now has more than 700,000 active customers in markets across 26 countries, rejected the initial approach.

William Hill has been given until 4 December to submit a formal bid for Sportingbet.

Across the group wagers were down 14 per cent in the period to £594.3m.

But Sportingbet performed well in Australia where the amount wagered grew 3.5 per cent, despite lower year-on-year volumes in October.

It was boosted by the country’s largest annual betting event, the Melbourne Cup, a horse-racing event, where it saw an 8 per cent increase in punters and 21 per cent increase in the number of bets.