Competition Sees Vernons Profits Fall; Down 32% in Six Months

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Byline: BY TONY McDONOUGH Deputy Business Editor

LIVERPOOL-BASED Vernons Pools saw a 32 % plunge in operating profits for the six months to June 30.

Vernons owner, gaming giant Ladbrokes, blamed the fall from pounds 3.1m last year to pounds 2.1m, on the impact of results of its Irish National Lottery-based game.

However, Ladbrokes spokesman Alex Pagett also admitted to the Daily Post that the Vernons operation was facing increasingly cutthroat competition from other areas of the ever-expanding gambling sector.

"I think we have to accept that people who may use Vernons are also being attracted to other gaming products elsewhere," he said.

Aintree-based Vernons, which also houses Ladbrokes' telephone betting call centre, employs around 350 people.

In recent years, the division has diversified into other areas of gaming following the sharp decline in the number of football pools players. Pools was hit badly following the launch of the National Lottery in 1994.

Vernons, and another Liverpool-based company, Sportech, are the only operators left offering the game. The number of people playing each week in the UK has stabilised at around 1m, although both firms have struggled to attract new players, despite advertising campaigns. …