William Hill profits jump after surge in online bets

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Profits at the bookmaker William Hill rose by nearly a quarter over the first half of the year, driven by a surge in its online sports revenues, particularly for bets made "in-play" during football and tennis matches.

The group also hailed a resilient performance from its 2,350 betting shops, despite the downturn in consumer spending. Its retail revenues rose 2 per cent to £398.8m in the 26 weeks to 28 June, helped by the continued popularity of machines in its shops.

Ralph Topping, the chief executive of William Hill, said: "Once the working family feels much more confident about life we will see betting shops take off."

Overall, the company's pre-tax profits jumped 23 per cent to £126.9m. Its online revenues increased to £152.7m, driven by the performance of its sportsbook. The stakes placed on in-play bets online jumped by 95 per cent and now account for 40 per cent of its overall sports betting. The bookmaker offers 188 different betting markets for individual football matches, as well as point-by-point markets on tennis, such as at this year's Wimbledon.

Total revenues at William Hill rose by 7 per cent to £567.8m.