William Hill became the latest bookmaker to warn over the impact of last week’s football results as it revealed a loss of around £13m after the top seven Premier League football teams all secured victories.
The UK’s biggest bookie, which employs around 3,000 staff in Yorkshire and has two offices in Leeds, said the hit last week came as it lost out to punters in its “otherwise very attractive accumulator”, comparing the result to the day in 1996 when jockey Frankie Dettori won all of his seven races at Ascot.
It cautioned there was “no certainty” it could offset the impact, but added it should benefit from buoyed confidence among punters at the start of the season and ahead of the World Cup in June.
Rival Ladbrokes has already said the Premier League wins had likely cost the betting industry between £25m and £30m, while Coral revealed it was the worst weekend in its 88-year history.
In its fourth quarter update, William Hill posted strong growth with revenues from controversial fixed odds betting machines increasing significantly – up 24 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 31.
Labour last week demanded tighter controls on these machines, claiming they have allowed betting shops to become “mini casinos”.
Shares in William Hill were hit hard as Prime Minister David Cameron signalled a potential crackdown on them, saying he was willing to work with the Opposition to address any problems.
William Hill is investing in the roll out of a new high-tech version of fixed odds betting machines, known as Eclipse machines, across more than a third of its estate.
It revealed that weekly gross win per fixed odds machine rose to £920 from £918 in 2012.
But the betting industry stresses the average user only plays for 10 to 15 minutes and spends £7.55, while an independent review is being carried out by the Responsible Gambling Trust into the terminals.
The leap in machines revenues helped overall turnover across its 2,300 shops rise by 13 per cent in the last quarter of 2013, but online betting was the star performer once more.
It finished last year with 38 per cent more money wagered through its online sportsbook year-on-year in the quarter.
William Hill forecast full-year earnings of around £334m, up from £330.6m in 2012, but shares fell three per cent after its poor football results last week.