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William Hill sees strong online growth

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William Hill’s online division grew strongly in the first half of the year. Net online revenues at the multichannel bookmaker rose by 24% while operating profit from the division rose by 43% in the 26 weeks to June 29, compared to the same time last year.

In a trading statement published today, William Hill said group revenues grew by 3%, compared to the same time last year, while it expected a slight rise in profits before interest, tax, amortisation and exceptional items, to £135m from £134.6m at the same time last year.

A particularly strong performance came from its sports betting, which grew by 59%, year on year. In-play betting doubled at the same time. Gross win margin rose to 7.7%, up from 6.8% last time.

The company, said the bookmaker, had a very strong World Cup, but it had not fared so well with horseracing. The Grand National in April was weak, while it made a loss at Royal Ascot.

Ralph Topping, William Hill chief executive, said: “”Whilst it was our worst ever Royal Ascot, with a loss on the meeting, the World Cup proved to be one of the best for bookmakers in 40 years. Overall, we have seen a good Group performance in the period, with a particularly strong contribution from William Hill Online.”

But while online performed well, telephone betting fell by 33%, a decline ascribed to the horseracing results. William Hill said it was reviewing the challenge from UK betting exchanges and Irish offshore telebetting operators, all of whom, it said, have “significant tax and cost advantages over UK bookmakers.”

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