Casino trading

The firm said while casino trading remained challenging in the current year, daily average revenue was higher by 5% than in December and poker play had grown quarter on quarter.

New customer levels were "considerably" better than expected and the firm said it had a healthy pipeline of business for the year ahead.

It was hit hard by the economic and financial market turmoil last autumn, which it said saw poker customers in particular rein in their play, with the weak pound also impacting US dollar-reported revenues.

The group put faith in its ability to ride out the economic troubles.

Gigi Levy, chief executive of 888, said: "Whilst remaining cautious in our outlook we are confident our customers will continue to enjoy our services and that the overall strength and resilience of the business will ensure we weather this turbulent period well.

The Pacific Poker owner reported pre-tax profits of 48.6 million US dollars (£34.3m), but said it had suffered a "disappointing" fourth quarter for poker, dragging the division's revenues down by 4% over the year.

It has been "encouraged" by trading so far since the year end, which is stronger than December, although it still expects first quarter trading to be slightly below that seen in the final three months of 2008.

"Just as we managed to grow market share after the industry was hit by the closure of the US market, we are confident we will outperform the market in these challenging times and continue to grow our business."

It is focusing efforts on a burgeoning business-to-business offering, also announcing a joint venture with the Racing Post to provide white label casino and poker services.

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