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Flutter profit at lower end of outlook, US outperforms

By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) -Flutter on Thursday reported full-year core profit at the lower end of its forecast range, sending shares in the world's largest online betting company as much as 6% lower, even as its fast-growing U.S. Fanduel unit outperformed expectations.

The Paddy Power, Betfair and PokerStars owner said annual core profit excluding the U.S. grew 4% to 1.295 billion pounds ($1.55 billion) versus the forecast range of 1.29 billion pounds to 1.39 billion pounds.

Customer-friendly sports results, including Argentina's win and the starring roles of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi at the soccer World Cup, cost nearly 40 million pounds in December, while revenue at the Australia Sportsbet business was 6% lower as punters gambled less once COVID-19 lockdowns were over.

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Flutter's London-listed shares were 5.1% lower at 12,790 pence at 1025 GMT, making it one of the top losers in the FTSE All-Share index.

However momentum continued to grow at FanDuel, with Flutter's U.S. revenue up 67% to $3.2 billion and at the top end of its outlook range that it upgraded in November.

The U.S. operation made a core loss of $313 million, compared with expected losses of $300 million to $360 million and Flutter reiterated it remains firmly on track to be profitable in the United States for the first time this year.

FanDuel grew its leading share of the U.S. sports betting market to 50% from 42% at the end of September and slice of the iGaming market to 21% from 19%. It also had a record Super Bowl and has acquired over 1.2 million customers so far this year.

FanDuel is now the number one operator in 15 of the 18 U.S. states where sports betting is live following the lifting of a nationwide ban in 2018.

Flutter said in November it sees Fanduel's revenue jumping to around $15 billion over the long term, with the overall value of the sports betting and online gaming market to rise to $40 billion by 2030 from $9 billion currently.

($1 = 0.8352 pounds)

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by David Goodman and Shounak Dasgupta)