he firm Sporting Index took nine times as many bets as at Beijing four years ago and 70 % of its customers who had been active betting with them over the past three weeks had at least one bet on the Olympics. One in three clients placed bets via hand-held devices.
In Beijing, Sporting Index took bets on 16 different sports, while in 2012 the firm saw action on all 36 sports and bets were placed on every one of the 302 medal events. The top betting sports were soccer and tennis, but swimming, basketball, athletics, boxing and cycling all proved very popular.
Ladbrokes forecasts the sector will turn over close to us$ 125.4 million for the two-week period, compared with us$ 6.2 million from the Beijing Games four years ago, while research from Coral shows that 3 million people planned to place their first ever bet on the London Olympics.
Betfair is also seeing an increase in betting activity, with the total number of customers making bets doubling to just under 100,000. The biggest draw for the group was the men's 100-metre final, which saw 19,000 individual customers placing wagers on the outcome of the race, Betfair said. And while some businesses in London's West End are suffering from a drop-off in custom, the Westfield shopping centre situated by the Olympic Park is seeing a boom in visitors.
Michael Gutman, UK and Europe managing director of the Westfield group, told The Sunday Telegraph that "without a doubt" the Olympic Games have surpassed expectations. He said between 5 million and 6 million visitors have passed through the Stratford site over the past two weeks, with two to three times the normal number of people passing through each day.
Visa, which is an official sponsor of the Games, with only Visa cards accepted in the Olympic Park, has also recorded an increase in tourist spending. International visitors spent us$ 716.5 million in the UK using the company's debit and credit cards during the first week of the sporting action, an increase of 8% on the same week a year earlier. Restaurant spending climbed by nearly a fifth, while sightseeing expenditure rose 12%, according to Visa.
However, some businesses in the capital are reporting a downturn in trading, despite the influx of tourists who have come to watch the Games.
David Coffer, chairman of leisure and property advisers the Coffer Group, and major shareholder in Earls Court and Olympia, said: "The leisure and retail sectors have been desperately reliant on capitalising on this 2012 Olympic Games. But, have found not only there is no boom but trade is worse then they could have ever feared."
According to Coffer, eating and drinking establishments in London, together with theatres and visitor attractions, have been suffering from a lack of customers, with some reporting a 60% decline against the same time last year. This has had a severe impact on cash flow during a traditional peak season and compounded the effects of the recession.
Trade in London's financial district has also been muted. Neleen Strauss, owner of the High Timber restaurant sited on the Thames, claimed turnover is down 80% as companies have encouraged staff to stay away to make room for the influx of tourists on the public transport system.
Nevertheless, the Government, which has been running a series of business summits to coincide with the Games, has been upbeat about the impact of the Olympics on British business and yesterday announced that deals worth about us$ 21.9 billion have been unveiled over recent weeks.