Paddy Power says online bets have made up for dismal Cheltenham Festival

The Northern Echo: Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio celebrates a goal in last season's Tyne-Wear derby Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio celebrates a goal in last season's Tyne-Wear derby

BOOKMAKER Paddy Power, who courted controversy with an advertisement featuring Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, says online bets have increased its half-year profits.

The Dublin-based company said profits were up by 12 per cent after online bets countered a poor Cheltenham Festival, where a third of the races were won by favourites.

The firm, which has 228 UK shops, including branches in Sunderland and Newcastle, said profits reached £66m for the six months to June 30, with about two thirds of bets now placed online through mobile phones.

The amount staked by customers in its UK shops rose 16 per cent to £259.7m, with profits growing by three per cent to £6.7m, and online profits increasing by 19 per cent to £49.5m.

Its advertisement, aired earlier this year, saw a plastic model of Sunderland's di Canio next to a puppet of Kim Jong-Un, who said he wanted to bring nuclear power to the club's Stadium of Light ground and see its players celebrate like former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer.

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