LONDON, July 11 William Hill has beaten its 200 million pound ($340 million) target for betting on the World Cup despite an early English exit from the soccer tournament, Britain's largest bookmaker said on Friday.
The figure is double what William Hill generated during the previous competition in 2010 and shows the growth in betting on soccer among younger gamblers, who have grown up on a diet of live televised matches.
England's group game with Uruguay last month was the biggest match for William Hill during the month-long tournament, with more than 5.5 million pounds wagered. Most gamblers had backed England to win but the national team lost 2-1 and went on to exit the tournament after the initial three-game group stage.
Germany play Argentina in the World Cup final on Sunday.
Bookmakers had seen the World Cup as an opportunity to build market share ahead of new taxes due to be introduced over the next year that will cost the industry around 400 million pounds. Television viewers have been bombarded by adverts from betting companies in breaks during matches.
William Hill did not give any indication of how profitable the World Cup had been, saving that detail for its next results statement due on Aug. 1. Bookies said on Wednesday four gamblers were counting their winnings after putting money on Germany to beat Brazil by the outlandish 7-1 scoreline in the semi-final.
Both teams to score is a popular bet and Oscar's late consolation goal for Brazil cost William Hill more than a million pounds, a company spokesman said.
Ladbrokes, Britain's second-largest bookmaker, said it was pleased with the amount of business it had seen during the World Cup and with customer reaction to its mobile app.
"We take a lot of confidence from the brand's strength and its performance when supported by a strong digital product," said Ladbrokes spokesman Ciaran O'Brien.
Ladbrokes has fallen behind William Hill after a series of problems with its online operations. ($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds) (Editing by David Holmes)