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World Cup gambling revenue soars

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Bookmakers are set to cash in on record demand for World Cup gambling, helped by the rise of online betting.

Revenue on World Cup bets is doubling every four years and that trend is set to climb higher due to the Internet, according to UK bookmaker Ladbrokes.

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UK bookmakers took about 40 million ($56 million) during USA 1994 and 85 million ($120 million) during France 1998, Ladbrokes' development director David Briggs told CNN. This year's finals are expected to generate more than 200 million ($280 million).

Argentina are the current favourites with France and Italy close behind. Meanwhile one punter has staked 50,000 ($70,000) on Brazil winning for a fifth time. "This World Cup is the biggest betting event ever," said Briggs.

Football's worldwide popularity makes it the "global currency of betting," he added. Ladbrokes has taken World Cup bets from 165 countries, with half the punters coming from outside the UK.

A major market is Asia, where the English, Spanish and Italian leagues have millions of fans. "If you go to the Far East with a Beckham shirt everyone will know who that is, even if that town only has one TV in a bar," said Briggs.



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