Punters give Betfair a lift in glorious sports summer

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The Independent Online

Britain's superb summer of sport was good news for Betfair, the online betting exchange, which saw its revenues rise 13 per cent in the three months to the end of July. While several of its overseas operations suffered from changing tax regimes and tighter regulation, its sports book revenues rose by 21 per cent and UK revenues grew by 23 per cent.

Stephen Morana, the finance director, who announced yesterday that he is leaving after 10 years at the firm, said: "We kicked off with a very good Euro football tournament, a strong Ascot with Frankel's superb victory, followed by a sound Wimbledon.

"August has seen a bit of a slowdown. The Premier League started a week later than last year and although the Olympics were great for attracting new clients... it is never a massive betting event. In fact there were signs that people preferred to watch the 100m heats rather than the 4.40 from Newton Abbott."

Monday night provided a boost, with the largest-ever sum bet on a single tennis match as Betfair punters wagered £63m on Andy Murray's US Open final victory.

Mr Morana said he had decided to stand down to "pursue other interests" as Breon Corcoran, the new chief executive, begins to put his stamp on the business. Mr Morana will stay on until his successor has been found.

Mr Morana added: "We have a strong weekend coming up with The Premier League back after the internationals break and the St Leger. Then there's Frankel's last run probably at Ascot's Champions Day. And we end up with the Ryder Cup which is great for betting."

Numis Securities analyst Ivor Jones said: "We remain bullish about Betfair's prospects over the next six months but we don't see this trading statement as a catalyst."

Betfair floated its shares at 1300p two years ago but they languish at little more than half this price after falling 8p to 740p yesterday.