William Hill hails surge in online betting and boost from pound's Brexit slump

Punters in the UK, US and Australia all place more bets online, but traditional high street betting shops fare less well

Ben Chapman@b_c_chapman
Tuesday 09 May 2017 18:41
All out: the bookmaker’s efforts to reach beyond its shops include the launch of an app
All out: the bookmaker’s efforts to reach beyond its shops include the launch of an app

William Hill enjoyed a 16 per cent surge in online betting and a Brexit boost to its overseas revenues in the last quarter that helped offset some unfavourable football results.

The bookmaker has made a big effort to improve its online presence, which now accounts for around a third of revenues. Over the year it has launched a new app and begun rolling out an overhauled website.

Traditional bricks and mortar betting shops fared less well, with net revenue for the 17 weeks to 25 April up just 1 per cent on the same period last year.

UK betters placed 11 per cent more online, William Hill said, while Australian customers bet 53 per cent more and in the US the figure jumped 19 per cent.

Overseas numbers were boosted significantly by the pound’s slump which increased the value of revenues made in other currencies.

The company hailed strong horse-racing results but said football returns have been lower than expected so far this year.

The push to online appears to be working as the company saw a 24 per cent leap in new accounts set up across the key Cheltenham and Aintree horse-racing festivals earlier this year.

The company said a new 10 per cent levy on horse-racing winnings which came into effect in the UK last month would equate to a £5m hit over the rest of 2017.

Philip Bowcock, who was confirmed as chief executive just two months ago hailed, “a positive start to the year for William Hill across the board”.

He added: “Our online business continues to deliver growth thanks to the improvements in product, user experience and marketing we have made.”

Bookmakers are awaiting the outcome of a Government gambling review, sparked by concerns over problem gambling, particularly on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The machines, which allow customers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds, now account for 56 per cent of all betting-shop profits. Campaign groups have said they can be highly addictive and some MPs have expressed a desire to cut maximum wagers to just £2 – a move which would likely hurt bookmakers’ bottom lines.

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