William Hill reports profit fall

​Britain’s biggest bookmaker William Hill​ ​reported a 19 pe​r​ cent fall in first quarter operating profit​ ​following​ £20m in ​additional tax charges and the impact of its worst ever sports betting week.

William Hill saw its quarterly profit tumble after suffering the biggest loss-making week in the firm's 81-year history.

The company, which is a major employer in Yorkshire with 3,000 staff, including 1,300 in Leeds, said operating profit fell by ​£​16​m 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.

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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 - ​£​14​m - 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 ​£​14.3​m 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

​I​ts 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.