US William Hill Sports Betting Operations Keep UK Bookmaker in the Black

Posted on: May 16, 2019, 08:55h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2019, 08:55h.

William Hill would have recorded a net revenue loss January through April if it hadn’t been for the company’s operations in the recently liberalized US sports betting market.

William Hill sports betting revenue
William Hill brick-and-mortar shops are taking in less money due to recently imposed betting limits. (Image: Reuters)

Retail revenue at William Hill’s 2,372 betting shops throughout the United Kingdom fell seven percent, the UK Gambling Commission’s new £2 stake limit on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) cited for the decline. Online net gaming revenue grew eight percent, but it was across the pond in the US that kept the company positive.

Just one year on since PASPA was overturned, William Hill has doubled the sports wagering it handles in the US, seen record performances at the Super Bowl and March Madness, is live in all seven states to have allowed sports betting, and expects to enter further states soon,” William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock said.

Revenue from US operations flourished 48 percent, as the sports betting operator continues to expand into new states.

Land of the Free

PASPA – the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court a year ago this week. Since the landmark ruling, states have possessed the power to determine their own laws on the gambling activity.

Seven states have joined Nevada in getting full-scale sports betting operational: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and New Mexico. Laws to govern the activity have been passed in New York, DC, Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, and Iowa.

William Hill is operating sportsbooks in all eight states that are up and running. The sportsbook will be in Iowa and Indiana – the two most recent states to sign sports betting bills into law – due to the company’s nationwide partnership deal with Eldorado Resorts.

Eldorado, one of the largest regional casino operators in the US, owns 26 casinos in 11 states. The company is presently mulling an acquisition of Caesars Entertainment.

FOBT Revenue

Effective April 1, the maximum bet on FOBT machines is £2 ($2.56). That’s down drastically from the previous ceiling of £100 ($127.94).

The regulatory overhaul is expected to greatly reduce revenues for UK retail betting shops. The controversial – but highly lucrative – FOBTs are littered in high street retail locations.

The impact of the introduction of the £2 stake limit has been in line with our expectations,” Bowcock told investors. “We are confident in our plan to manage this major change, and will update more fully at the half year.”

William Hill’s 2,372 betting offices represents more 27 percent of all the retail shops licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.

Bowcock expressed enthusiasm for the company’s new advertising campaign featuring boxer Anthony Joshua. William Hill caused a bit of controversy this week when the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned one of its ads.

The marketing spot appeared on the dating app Tinder throughout the UK and read, “Stuck in the friend zone? You won’t be for much longer if you use this Cheltenham (horse racing) free bet offer.”

The ASA ruled that gambling ads cannot be linked to “seduction, sexual success, or enhanced attractiveness.”