UK bookmaker Ladbrokes to open 70 Spanish shops

LONDON, April 2 (Reuters) – British bookmaker Ladbrokes became to latest European gambling group to launch an assault on the Spanish market on Wednesday, saying it would open 70 shops by the end of the year.

Ladbrokes, which has a joint venture with Spanish casino, bingo and slot machine maker Cirsa, said its first shop will open in Madrid in about two weeks.

Many of Europe’s big gambling firms are gearing up for pushes into Spain and Italy to take advantage of recent relaxation of gambling laws.

UK rival William Hill and its partner Codere also plan to open 70 Spanish outlets by the end of the year. Greece’s Intralot is eyeing 100, while private equity owned Gala Coral has been in talks with potential Spanish partners for the last six months.

According to figures from consultants MECN, the Spanish betting market is expected to grow to 39 billion euros ($58 billion) by 2010, with the sports betting market set to hit 4.5 billion euros.

Some analysts think the big betting firms could have up to 1,000 betting shops and kiosks across Spain over the next 5-8 years.

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