William Hill gets boost from World Cup betting

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William Hill, Britain’s largest bookmaker, said betting on the World Cup this year had increased by 80 per cent from the last time the tournament was played.

Strong betting on the month-long football tournament helped to offset the impact of unfavourable sports results earlier in the year, the company said today.

Revenue rose seven per cent to £805m in the 26 weeks to July 1, while operating profit dipped by two per cent to £177m. Both figures were slightly ahead of consensus forecasts.

William Hill is a major employer in Yorkshire with 3,000 staff, including 1,300 in Leeds, who are led by Terry Pattinson, the group trading director. The city is home to William Hill’s retail, trading and IT operations.

As announced last month, company insider James Henderson took over as chief executive today, replacing Ralph Topping who has been with the business for four decades and had held the top job since 2008.

“I will be looking hard at how we can continue to create shareholder value in developing a focused but internationally orientated gambling group,” Henderson said in a statement.

Henderson steps up when the gambling sector is facing financial and regulatory pressures, with the British government tightening controls on betting shops and increasing taxes on online gambling and high stakes gambling machines.

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