Britain’s biggest bookmaker William Hill reported a 19 per cent fall in first quarter operating profit following £20m in additional tax charges and the impact of its worst ever sports betting week.
The company, which is a major employer in Yorkshire with 3,000 staff, including 1,300 in Leeds, said operating profit fell by £16m in the 13 weeks to March 31 as it felt the effect of new levies such as a UK tax on profits from bets made online by its UK customers.
The industry is under increasing pressure from rising taxes as well as regulation, forcing many firms to close some shops and put greater focus and resource on growing online sales.
William Hill said group net revenue grew by just one per cent in the quarter as its sports betting arm suffered its largest ever loss making week in January - £14m - after a series of customer friendly results. Online revenue growth of nine per cent was wiped out by higher costs and taxes.
The group, which posted record annual profits in February, said wagering and gaming trends had improved since January.
On Wednesday rival Ladbrokes posted a worse than expected fall in first quarter operating profit to £14.3m due to the unfavourable sports results and higher taxes.
Ladbrokes’ performance has trailed William Hill and others and the firm is under pressure to improve its offering in the fast growing online space. I
Its new chief executive Jim Mullen, promoted from head of digital last month, has promised to unveil his strategy for the business in June, earlier than planned.