William Hill reports losses as it prepares for retail hit

William Hill has detailed a loss for H1 2018, after the group reported £915.9m in exceptional charges for the first half of the year with it citing the government’s judgement on FOBTs as a key reason for this decision.

The settlement means that in spite of reporting a net revenue increase of 3% from the corresponding period of £802.6m to £778.5m, the firm declared a period statutory loss before tax of £820m.

Nonetheless, its loss of £819.6m was softened slightly as the firm was able to recuperate some of the losses it with it gaining £241m from the disposal of its Australian business division (acquired by CrownBet) and its enterprise investment in NYX Gaming Group (acquired by Scientific Games).

Philip Bowcock, Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, commented on H1 2018 trading: “William Hill has performed well during the first half of 2018 and, following major regulatory decisions in the UK and US, we now have greater clarity over the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.

“During the first half, our online business continued to deliver double-digit growth. In Retail, we are beginning to put in place plans to mitigate the impact of the Triennial Review. In the US, we have moved quickly following the repeal of PASPA as we grow into newly regulating states. We will continue to invest in the US to ensure we are well placed to capture the substantial potential available to us.”

Digitally the group reported growth in its assets, as its online gaming offering recording an increase of 4% when it comes to net revenues. A hike that was exceeded by the firm’s digital sportsbook offering, however this was to be expected given a profitable World Cup.

The operator also mapped out gaming trends in the US, as it laid out its aspirations to build on its Nevada footprint and become a leading player in the US market. With it agreeing 11 deals signed with casinos in Mississippi and one casino in West Virginia to run sports books and plans to take the first sports bet in Mississippi in August.

The results come after last July’s announcement from Bowcock and William Hill announcing the firm’s new sustainability and corporate social responsibility directive ‘Nobody Harmed by Gambling’, outlining the betting industry’s biggest corporate commitment to eradicating UK problem gambling.

“Fundamental to delivering over the long term will be our sustainability strategy, which marks a significant cultural change for the company. Gambling-related harm is a serious issue and it is important that we face up to this challenge. We have set ourselves the ambition that nobody is harmed by gambling and set out a detailed programme of actions as we start out on this journey.”