World Cup safe 
bet for William Hill’s revenues

Germany's Philipp Lahm lifts the World Cup trophy
Germany's Philipp Lahm lifts the World Cup trophy
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​William Hill, ​the UK’s biggest bookmaker, said betting on the World Cup ​was up 80 per cent ​​on the last tournament in 2010.​

​​Punters laid 20.2 million wagers worth £227​m on the summer football tournament​.

Online betting tr​ebled​ compared with the 2010 event, with 60​ per cent​ of wagers made via mobile devices.

​The group said the most bet-on match was the final​​, with a million wagers and £10​m staked, as Germany beat Argentina.

The World Cup helped ​William Hill ​increase​ revenues by ​seven per cent​ to £805.2​m for the 26 weeks ​to July 1. Operating profit fell ​two per cent​ ​to​ £176.9​m, but this was better than expectations.

​​Both figures were slightly ahead of consensus forecasts.​

The decline reflected unfavourable results for the bookmaker, especially in the first quarter​ ​when bookmakers had to make big payouts on weekends when a number of favourites won, particularly in English Premier League football.​

Online sports betting revenue rose 41​ per cent​, while gaming turnover also saw double digit growth.​

​​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.

​The group’s results were the first ​to be announced by new chief executive James Henderson ​who took over from Ralph Topping​ yesterday.

Mr Topping​ spent 44 years at the company, six of them as ​chief executive.

​Mr ​Henderson has been with the company for 29 years​.​

He said his priorities ​a​re to grow the business internationally, develop its technology and profit from the increasing number of ways in which its customers can now bet.​

But the sector is coming under pressure from regulators.

Shares slipped earlier this year as bookies were hit with a surprise increase in gaming machine duty in the Budget.

Mr Henderson said diversifying strategy helped to mitigate the risk. The company said 52​ per cent​ of operating profits now come from digital channels.

A further 17​ per cent of revenues now come from international markets.

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

Mr Topping won plaudits for the group’s international expansion which has taken the company into Australia, the US, Spain and Italy and developing the online business.

​The​ expansion has ​helped William Hill stride clear of rival Ladbrokes to establish itself as the biggest company in the sector.

The industry is facing financial and regulatory pressures in Britain ​as the Government tightens​ controls on betting shops and increasing taxes on both online gambling and high stakes gaming machines.

​Analyst Greg Johnson at Shore Capital commented: “​The period was characterised by unfavourable sporting results, notably football in the online division, against especially tough comparatives masking significant underlying momentum online, further progress in Australia and stable trading in retail, with good momentum in machine play.”

Sheridan Admans, investment research manager at The Share Centre, said: “With James Henderson taking over as CEO there is some speculation that he will announce some tweaks to the strategy.

“This, along with the company’s confidence, providing sporting results work in its favour for the remainder of the financial year, and improving consumer confidence means we remain positive on the outlook for William Hill.”