William Hill profits as results pay off

When 25-1 shot Encke beat hot, 5-2 on, favourite Camelot in the final classic flat race of the season, the St Leger, at Doncaster last autumn, it was the bookies, not the punters, who were laughing all the way to the bank.

Similarly, Chelsea and Bayern Munich drawing 1-1 at full time in the Champions League Final, England's 0-0 draw with Italy in the Euros and Bubba Watson's victory in the US Golf Masters were all big days for the betting industry.

This run of form helped William Hill to a 20 per cent surge in operating profits on a 12 per cent rise in revenues in 2012.

Its chief executive Ralph Topping said: "The fourth quarter delivered a strong end to an already good year in 2012. Performance was robust in retail, and profits continued to grow strongly online."

William Hill Online's revenues rose 27 per cent but bets over the counter in shops were down by 1 per cent.

That was partly offset by a 5 per cent rise in the amount wagered in slot machines in shops.

The group said that it expects to complete the £454m takeover of Sportingbet's Australian and Spanish operations within the next couple of months.