Harmony of the Seas
Online gaming website 888 said its profit almost doubled as it boosted in sports betting and casino revenues Jean-Sevastien Evrard/AFP

Online gaming website 888 said profit almost doubled in a year as it boosted sports betting and casino revenues.

The business, launched in 1997, said annual pre-tax profit jumped 82% to $59.2m (£47.8m) compared to a year ago, as it also expanded in core UK, Spanish and Italian markets.

The FTSE 250 group was driven by strong performances from its casino betting unit where sales rose 21% to $279.3m over the period, while sales at its sports betting business jumped 49% to $51.9m.

888 chief executive Itai Frieberger said: "2016 was another fantastic year for 888 during which we continued to deliver very strong organic revenue and profit growth.

"Current trading since the start of the year remains healthy with average daily revenue more than 11% above the previous year at constant currency."

He added the firm "continues to see a number of significant growth opportunities for 888 both in new and existing markets".

A £3.2bn offer for rival bookmaker William Hill by 888 and Rank Group collapsed last August after the market leader twice rejected their bid as undervaluing the business.

However, the sector is going through a period of consolidation which threatens the dominance of William Hill, which runs more than 2,300 outlets in the UK.

Betfair and Paddy Power agreed to merge in 2015, online gambling business GVC bought rival Bwin.Party and Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have also combined.

The sector is also in the middle of costly upgrades to its online betting platforms, the fastest-growing part of the industry.

888 added it would raise its dividend in light of what it said were outstanding results for 2016, with a final dividend of 5.1¢ per share plus a one-off 10.5¢ per share, bringing the total dividend to 19.4¢ per share for 2016 – a 25% increase from last year.