William Hill hit by US costs and UK regulations

William Hill hit by US costs and UK regulations

By Tanishaa Nadkar

British bookmaker William Hill has posted lower first-half profit, as a regulatory cap on fixed odds betting terminals in UK betting shops and more costs to expand in the US took a toll on the gambling group.

The company, which plans to cut a third of its betting shops and jobs in Britain, said adjusted operating profit fell 33% to £76.2m (€82m) for the six months to the end of June, as the government cut the maximum stake permitted on fixed-odds terminals, dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

William Hill, exploring potential partnerships in the US, expects adjusted operating profit for the year to be between £50m-£70m.

Britain cut the maximum stake allowed to £2 in April after complaints the machines, which had previously let gamblers bet up to £100 every 20 seconds, were highly addictive and allowed players to rack up big losses.

European betting firms have been pushing into the US after the American Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting.

“We continue to expand rapidly in the US, both in Nevada and in the new states, with over $1bn wagered with us in the first half. We are now live in eight states and will expand into at least two more states in the second half,” William Hill chief executive Philip Bowcock said.

The bookmaker said non-UK markets now contribute a third of online revenue, helped by the acquisition of Mr Green. It expects mid-single digit revenue growth in its online business.

Earlier this week, Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment said regulatory costs and increased taxes dragged first half underlying earnings down 10%.

Reuters

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