William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker, said betting on the soccer World Cup this year had increased by 80% from the last time the tournament was played.

Strong betting on the month-long soccer tournament helped to offset the impact of unfavourable sports results earlier in the year, the company said.

The bookmaker has more than 2,000 shops across Britain and Northern Ireland.

It had previously operated around 50 outlets in Ireland, but began closing stores in 2009 before selling its remaining Irish network to Boyle Sports in 2011.

Revenue rose 7% to £80m in the 26 weeks to 1 July, while operating profit dipped by 2% to £177m. Both figures were slightly ahead of consensus forecasts.

As announced last month, company insider James Henderson took over as chief executive today, replacing Ralph Topping who has been with the business for four decades and had held the top job since 2008.

"I will be looking hard at how we can continue to create shareholder value in developing a focused but internationally orientated gambling group," Mr Henderson said in a statement.

Mr Henderson steps up when the gambling sector is facing financial and regulatory pressures, with the British government tightening controls on betting shops and increasing taxes on online gambling and high stakes gambling machines.