By David Owen

mo farah_25-10-12October 25 - London 2012 seems to have been a mixed blessing for the vibrant domestic betting sector.

On the positive side, business was brisk: William Hill puts industry-wide turnover on the Olympics for British bookies at more than £25 million ($40,000/€31,000).

This far surpassed the Beijing Games in 2008, although it was not as high as some early estimates.

Then again, it looks like the British public's all-consuming interest in the exploits of Katherine Grainger, Usain Bolt et al may have had an impact on betting on other sports events.

Betfair last month said: "A slower start to the football season and reduced interest in other sports during the Olympics resulted in slower revenue growth in August."

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes recently disclosed that amounts staked in its British betting shops fell 4.9 per cent in the three months through September, covering the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as a period when bad weather caused the cancellation of 38 horse racing meetings.

"You had 24 hours of free high-quality television sports and it went on for four or five weeks," Ladbrokes chief executive Richard Glynn told Reuters.

"People were watching that rather than going to betting shops."

"It's a once in a lifetime thing," he added.

William Hill says it struck more than a million Olympic bets, doing its best to bet in-play on as many events as possible.

This, it says, was "really embraced by Olympics punters and accounted for 50 per cent of total turnover".

Football, tennis, basketball and athletics generated the highest turnover, with William Hill showing a loss on Grainger's sport of rowing and Bolt's of athletics.

Double gold medal-winning long distance runner Mo Farah punished the bookies more than any other athlete or team, according to Hill – "but we still cheered".

The bookie's biggest event for turnover and biggest win both came in the men's football competition.

Hill says that 21,700 bets were struck in the men's gold medal match, between Brazil and Mexico, nearly 4,000 bets more than its biggest-turnover athletics event – the men's 100 metres final.

That biggest win followed the men's quarterfinal match between Great Britain and South Korea, won by the Koreans in a penalty shootout.

The Olympic experience, Hill says, has "highlighted a desire by sports fans to bet on non-traditional betting sports.

"The brilliant performances in both athletics and cycling by some of Team GB will surely propel the profiles of both sports, and may heighten desire from punters to follow the sports outside of the Olympics."

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