Online betting exchange Betfair said it was looking to expand in Italy and the US after reporting a 16% rise in underlying profit in the first six months of its financial year.

Revenues fell 6% to £188m sterling in the six months to the end of October, but underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased to £48.9m.

Both figures were just ahead of analysts' average forecasts.

Betfair has been slimming down its operations and cutting costs under new chief executive Breon Corcoran, seeking to focus on fewer markets where returns are more secure.

"Betfair has continued to make progress against the strategic objectives we set out in December 2012 and has delivered a good first half performance," Breon Corcoran said in a statement.

"Our focus on regulated jurisdictions and Sportsbook-led acquisition continues to be successful," he added.

Betfair launched online casino operations in New Jersey late last month and is seeking to set up a betting exchange in Italy.

"Notwithstanding this incremental investment, the progress we have made in the first six months means we expect underlying EBITDA for the full year to be between £82-87m," Corcoran said.

Betfair, founded in 2000, operates a system that allows gamblers to bet against one another, removing the middleman or bookie.