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UPDATE 2-GVC lifts profit forecast again as online betting surges

* GVC expects FY EBITDA of 770 mln to 790 mln pounds

* Q3 online gaming revenue jumps 26%

* Announces acquisition of Portuguese firm Bet.pt

* Stock rises as much as 9% (Adds analyst quote, shares, background)

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Ladbrokes and bwin owner GVC lifted its annual profit outlook for the second time this year as sports events such as the English Premier League resumed and interest in online gaming surged, sending the bookmaker’s shares 9% higher on Thursday.

Online gaming revenue jumped 26% in the three months to the end of September as COVID-19 restrictions encouraged customers to play more to keep themselves entertained when other leisure activities were curtailed.

GVC, which owns the Coral and Eurobet brands as well, announced the acquisition of Bet.pt, an online gambling operator in Portugal for an undisclosed price as it pushes ahead with its expansion plans.

The gambling company expects full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) to be between 770 million and 790 million pounds ($996 million and$1.02 billion) after third-quarter net gaming revenue rose 12%.

The upgrade from its previous forecast of 720-740 million pounds helped to push other gambling stocks higher, while GVC was among the best performers on London’s blue chip index . It was up 4% at 1,095 pence by 1045 GMT and has gained around 25% this year.

“We have delivered our nineteenth consecutive quarter of double-digit online growth, along with market share gains in all our major territories... GVC is primed for further growth,” Chief Executive Officer Shay Segev said.

Gambling firms, including rivals William Hill and 888 Holdings have been targeting overseas markets, especially the United States, to offset a hit from tighter regulations in Britain.

GVC, which has a U.S. presence through a venture with casino operator MGM Resorts, said that business was tracking ahead of expectations, with sales of roughly $150 million to $160 million expected this year.

“GVC’s strong Q3 update confirms a favourable trading environment for gaming operators at present”, analysts at Davy View said.

The bookmaker last week warned that new gambling rules in Germany, its second-largest online-gaming market, would reduce 2021 profit by 70 million pounds. ($1 = 0.7732 pounds) (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Samantha Machado in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Keith Weir)

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