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Ladbrokes owner Entain sees flat online revenue growth

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past a branch of Ladbrokes in London

(Reuters) -Online punters are spending less money on gambling due to a cost-of-living squeeze in Britain, Ladbrokes-owner Entain said on Thursday as it lowered its online gaming revenues forecast for the year, sending the firm's shares lower.

Gambling firms have profited in the pandemic as punters went online for entertainment during lockdowns, but rising fuel and food costs are now forcing customers to cut non-essential spending.

Entain, which forecast in March annual online net gaming revenue growth in the mid- to high-single digit range, said a weaker macro-economic environment was reducing customers' rate of spend, moderating overall online growth.

The firm reported a 12% rise in its online net gaming revenue last year. Shares of Entain fell 6.5% in morning trade.

However, Entain, previously known as GVC Holdings, said its retail shops were trading ahead of expectations, with volumes in the second quarter ahead of pre-COVID-19 levels.

The betting group said its full-year outlook for net gaming revenue excluded impacts from the upcoming UK Gambling Act Review.

Britain is expected to issue new rules in September after introducing several rules in recent years including a cap on the maximum stake on terminals, stricter age and identity checks for online gambling and more support for those who become addicted.

Entain's peer 888 Holdings in June had warned of lower mid-year revenue amid tightened UK online safety measures.

London-listed Entain, which also owns Coral betting shops and the bwin and partypoker online brands, said on Thursday that online net gaming revenue in the second quarter dropped 7% while its total group net gaming revenue rose 8%.

(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Edmund Blair)