Hill’s profits surge thanks to online betting

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A SURGE in punters betting online and via mobile phone gambling apps helped William Hill to a better-than-expected half-year profits rise.

The bookmaker, which employs more than 3,000 people in Yorkshire, including over 1,300 people in its Leeds office, saw amounts wagered using its mobile sports app rise by 112 per cent after it was downloaded more than a million times since its launch in February last year. Meanwhile, mobile gaming net revenue was up 198 per cent.

Pre-tax earnings for the company before exceptional items were up four per cent to £156.2m while net revenues rose by a fifth to £751.6m.

Overall online sports revenues were up 44 per cent, driving web operating profits 16 per cent higher to £80.2m.

Earnings from Hill’s more traditional retail business were still the greater portion but the figure of £107.6m was a two per cent fall from the same period last year.

Amounts wagered over the counter were down five per cent compared with a period which included the start of the Euro 2012 football tournament.

However, net revenues from this area were up by five per cent helped by Hill’s best ever Grand National result when 66-1 outside Auroras Encore won at Aintree. Gaming revenue in shops was up 18 per cent.

Chief executive Ralph Topping said: “We have continued the momentum in online, particularly in mobile Sportsbook. The shift to mobile sports gaming is an important development and we have invested significant resources in getting the business fully prepared to accelerate this important opportunity. With almost 200 per cent growth in mobile gaming net revenue in the first half, this decision is clearly justified.”

The 79-year-old firm closed 10 shops but opened another 16 over the period, bringing the total to 2,398. It also launched in Australia, buying Sportingbet’s business in the country for £459m, while it also gained full control of its online business with the buyout of the outstanding 29 per cent stake for £424m.