Youbet.com Cuts Losses; Adjusts Subscriber Base

Youbet.com is slowly working its way out of debt. The California-based online pari-mutuel wagering service reduced its third quarter losses by 45%, according to a report released Tuesday after the markets closed.

Net loss for the quarter improved to $4 million from a $7.2 million net loss reported at this time a year ago. Earnings per share also improved to a loss of 20 cents per share compared with a 38 cents per share loss reported following the third quarter of 1999.

Helping the bottom line were increases in revenue and handle, and a 36% decrease in operating expenses. Youbet.com increased revenue 23% to $1.38 million, up from $1.13 million during last year's third quarter. The company also increased its handle 21% to $22.4 million for the quarter compared with $18.5 million during the same period a year ago. Operating expenses decreased to $5.2 million, down from $8.2 million a year ago.

For the past nine months ending Sept. 30, revenue increase 97% to nearly $4.6 million, up from $2.3 million during the same period of 1999. Net loss for the same period decreased to $3.4 million from $13.7 million, and earnings per share improved to a loss of 18 cents per share from a loss of 85 cents per share a year ago.

"We are further enhancing our domestic horse-racing operations with an upcoming launch of our Web-based product, which offers unique features and technological advances for our subscribers," said Robert Fell, Youbet.com's president and chief executive officer. "We expect growth in our subscriber base to ramp up when this new product becomes available during the first quarter of next year."

Youbet.com has about 16,000 subscribers, which is less than the company reported after the second quarter. The company reported having 17,200 subscribers as of June 30, 2000, but recently adjusted the total after reviewing its subscriber list. Anyone who had not used the service for at least 60 days was moved into an "inactive status" category. Company officials said the adjusted total gives them a better picture of subscriber activity.

Youbet.com is a closed-loop online service offering 24-hour access to live racing from 61 tracks in the United States and Canada, live audio and video, the latest track information, handicapping products, and real-time wagering information. The company does not accept or place bets. Instead Youbet.com transmits wagering requests to Ladbroke's in Pennsylvania, which is licensed by the state to handle account wagering. Youbet.com offers Thoroughbred and harness racing.

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