Game, bet and match

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THE Betfair Group took £50m of bets on the marathon Australian Open tennis final between Novak Djokovic, pictured, and Rafael Nadal, highlighting the popularity of in-play gaming on major sporting events.

Horse racing was also a driver of growth, with races such as Kauto Star’s victory in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day stimulating renewed interest in the sport.

Betfair, which was founded 12 years ago by one-time professional gambler Andrew Black and former JP Morgan trader Ed Wray, reported an 11 per cent rise in third-quarter revenue to £85.3m, topping a consensus forecast for £84.8m, according to a company-supplied poll of 10 analysts. The company has struggled since it listed on the London Stock Exchange in October 2010, seeing its share price fall by a third on the back of intensifying competition.

It has responded with the launch of a marketing campaign, ‘Don’t settle for less’, drawing attention to the better odds that it offers gamblers compared with book- makers.

Betfair acts as an intermediary between gamblers wanting to place a bet or offer odds to others, taking a commission on their wins and generally offering better odds than traditional bookmakers which take bets directly from customers.