- Sports betting company GVC swung to a pre-tax profit for the first half of the year as the World Cup fuelled a flurry of betting activity boosting retail revenues, though the company warned of regulatory hurdles ahead.

For the six months to 30 June, the company reported a profit before tax of £113.8m, compared with a loss of £6.4m a year earlier, while revenue rose 195% to £1.11bn.

Net gaming revenue (NGR) - the amount gained in stakes minus payouts – roe 191% to £1.13bn.

Net gaming revenue was driven by particularly strong growth in the legacy GVC brands and in the UK where grew NGR by 28% and by 19%.

Online growth was strong as NGR was 18% ahead of last year, driven by good underlying growth in all material markets and also by a positive World Cup.

UK retail NGR of £664.6m was 5% behind last year, while European retail NGR of £134.1m was 29% ahead of last year.

GVC expects to close around 1,000 Ladbrokes Coral shops following the UK government final Triennial Review decision to reduce maximum B2 stakes to £2 per spin.

The company also warned of a 'significant' impact to performance in Italy, after the newly formed Italian Government implemented wide-ranging restrictions on betting and gaming promotions and advertising.

The company said that while the prior year comparatives get increasingly tough, its target to double digit annual online NGR growth remains on track and it expects to deliver earnings (EBITDA) and operating profit in-line with the board's expectations. 'The performance of the GVC Group in the first half has been extremely pleasing in what has been a very busy period. Strong momentum in Online and European Retail has continued, and a positive World Cup helped improve trends in UK Retail in the second quarter,’ said Kenneth Alexander, CEO.

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