William Hill Lost £722 Million in 2018, Looks to the US for Profits

Red arrow shows profit going down
William Hill turns its attention to the US to bolster lost profits.

30-second summary

  • William Hill lost £721.9m ($955m) in 2018
  • Revenue was up by two percent to £1.62bn ($2.1bn)
  • Cut of fixed off betting terminals to £2 ($2.6) is impacting the bookmaker

Profits take a dive in 2018

Figures for William Hill dropped into the red for 2018, which the company blamed on the impending cut to the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals. These are due to drop to £2 ($2.6) from £100 ($132) next month.

The bookmaker, headquartered in London, reported a loss of £721.9m ($955m) in 2018, according to figures from William Hill. This compares to profits of £146.5m ($194m) in 2017. Revenue did, however, rise 2% to £1.62bn ($2.1bn) from £1.59bn ($2bn).

In November, it was reported that William Hill had spoken out about the potential of lower than expected full-year profits due to a cut in the fixed odds betting terminals. Not only that, but new measures for checking background checks and affordability scores meant customers were turning to other online betting companies.

In a bid to adapt to new regulations in the UK, it was also reported earlier this year that the bookmaker may end up shutting down 40% of its UK betting shops. It’s thought that such a move could see over 900 stores closing, putting 4,500 jobs on the line.

Philip Bowcock, CEO of William Hill, said that 2018 was a “busy and decisive year” for them. “Key regulatory decisions in the UK and US gave us much needed clarity to set a new five-year strategy and a goal to double profits by 2023,” he added.

He went on to say that: “We have three businesses at different stages, with online growing in the UK and diversifying internationally, retail being remodeled in response to the new £2 stake limit, and rapid expansion in the US sports betting market. Underpinning this, we have taken a clear leadership stance around safer gambling with our Nobody Harmed ambition.”

Looking to the US

In an attempt to boost its profits, William Hill is turning its attention to the US market.

According to figures from the bookmaker, its business in the US is now live in six states, with access secured to 17 states in total. This gives the company a 34% market stake.

Commenting on this, Bowcock said: “We have started delivering on our strategy with the expansion of our US business, being first out of the blocks in all states that have regulated sports betting, and with the acquisition of Mr Green, which will support the build-out of our international digital business.”

Mr Green Casino is an online betting company that is regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority. It was reported in December that William Hill had bought the Sweden-based online gambling platform for around £241m ($306.5m).

It remains to be seen how the bookmaker’s venture into the US market will impact its profits for 2019 and beyond; however, it seems clear that the company is set on rebounding.

“We know the next few years will require careful navigating and investment, but with a clear strategy and diverse, experienced leadership teams in place we are ready to capitalize on the opportunities available to us,” concluded Bowcock.