Midlands racecourse operator Arena Leisure is hoping for an increase in attendances this year following the washout last summer of some meetings due to the poor weather.
Chief executive Mark Elliott said yesterday that he was confident the British horse racing industry will see an increase in attendances, benefiting from better weather and the England football team's non-participation in Euro 2008.
Last year's atrocious weather led to a number of meetings being cancelled and two of Arena's courses - Worcester and Southwell - being closed for a significant period because of extensive flooding.
Arena, which operates Wolverhampton racecourse and stages over a quarter of all racing in the UK, still achieved a 12.4 per cent increase in total attendances to 573,000, aided by the re-opening of its Doncaster course in time for September's classic St Ledger festival.
But attendances across the UK racing industry as a whole were down one per cent at 5.8 million, a situation Mr Elliott believes should be remedied in 2008.
"England not getting to Euro 2008 will help and, as long as we have a reasonable summer, we should bounce back," he said.
Arena reported a 6.9 per cent increase in pretax profit before interest to £6 million for the year to the end of December.
Revenues rose by 28 per cent to £57.9 million, benefiting from the Doncaster re-opening and the creation of a new division to manage all catering activities across Arena's racecourses.
Mr Elliott said forward bookings for summer meetings at Windsor and this year's St Ledger have been strong, indicating that punters will still attend high profile meetings despite the wider slowdown in consumer spending.
But he admitted that "lower end" meetings such as those at Wolverhampton could see an impact.
Mr Elliott expressed a "complete lack of surprise" at Wednesday's decision by the Government to reject a bid by the racing industry to buy the state-owned bookmaker Tote and, instead, prepare it for an open market sale.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the bid did not meet the independent assessment of the Tote's market value, which was necessary for a sale to proceed lawfully under EU state aid rules.
That valuation is understood to have been £400 million.
Mr Elliott said: "It would be preferable if it stayed within racing but, I'm a realist, and racing had an exclusive shot at it and, clearly, has not been successful."
He was "reassured" by the DCMS statement that half the proceeds from the sale would go back into the industry.
Arena was part of a consortium which attempted to buy the Tote in early 2006. Its offer was rejected and it withdrew from the process.
Mr Elliott welcomed the decision by the Government to grant 16 new casino licences, one of which will go to the City of Wolverhampton. Wolverhampton had applied for the licence on the premise that it would be built at the racecourse, creating Britain's first "racino".
Arena, which has already been granted planning permission both for the casino and to expand its hotel at the course to 170 bedrooms, must now apply formally to the council for the licence.
"I would expect that is going to take the best part of this year. As soon as that is complete, we are ready to go.
"We will probably start in January 2009 and be ready in the second quarter of 2010," he said.
Planning permission has also been approved for a 116-bedroom hotel and leisure development at Lingfield Park racecourse and for a combined 120-bedroom hotel and 34-unit residential development at Doncaster racecourse.
Arena expects to secure additional banking facilities of £38.5 million in the next few weeks, taking its total facilities to £78 million, enabling the company to undertake the Doncaster and Lingfield developments.
It added that it is confident further funding will be available for the Wolverhampton development once it is confirmed that the racino project will proceed.
The company is paying a final dividend of 0.3 pence, making a total dividend of 0.55 pence.