World Cup Betting Surge Boosts William Hill
William Hill says it got a boost from the World Cup with an 80% increase in betting compared with the 2010 tournament.
Just over 20 million bets were placed, worth £227m, with three-quarters of punters betting online rather than in a betting shop. Sixty percent of online bets were placed on phones or tablet devices.
Overall, there was a 146% growth in mobile betting compared with the first six months of 2013.
The biggest wager on the World Cup was $350,000 (£207,000) on Argentina to beat Iran, placed in Nevada.
Lionel Messi scored in the 91st minute to edge the match 1-0.
A 22-year-old student from Cheshire pulled off the most remarkable bet, winning £240 after staking 80p for Germany to be 5-0 ahead at half time against Brazil. The odds were 300/1.
William Hill said the best results for punters were Brazil's 3-1 win against Croatia, Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Ecuador, and Germany's 7-1 thrashing of Brazil.
Despite the spike from the Brazil tournament, the group's half-year operating profit fell 2% to £176.9m - but this was better than expectations. Its pre-tax profit was down 15% year-on-year to £121.8m.
The World Cup surge helped to take the edge off some big losses for bookies at the start of the year, particularly when a number of favourites won in the Premier League.
An increase in duty on gaming machines, unveiled in the Budget, also hit the sector.
New chief executive James Henderson has just taken over William Hill from Ralph Topping, who spent 44 years at the company, six of them as boss.
The firm said it will continue its strategy of expanding overseas and continue growing the online part of its business.