William Hill notes ‘solid progress’ despite booking + £900 million FOBTs adjustment

FTSE bookmaker William Hill will settle exceptional charges and adjustments of £916 million, including a ‘£882 million non-cash impairment’ for its Retail division, as governance adjusts to the UK government’s Triennial Judgement reducing wagers on FOBTs machines to £2.

Publishing its half-year 2018 results (26 weeks ending 27 June), William Hill governance has pre-booked corporate losses of £916 million, which will result in the FTSE bookmaker declaring a period statutory loss before tax of £820 million.

Aiding its corporate adjustments, William Hill was able to recoup proceeds of £241 million from the disposal of its Australian business division (acquired by CrownBet) and its enterprise investment in NYX Gaming Group (acquired by Scientific Games).

Despite settling high-cost exceptional charges, William Hill governance reports solid operational progress during a period of ‘substantial corporate change’.

Closing World Cup Russia 2018 trading, in which the bookmaker recorded ‘+1 million active online customers’ during the tournament, William Hill records group net revenues of £802 million, up 3% on corresponding H1 2017’s £778 million.

In its interim update, William Hill governance outlines substantial growth across its digital assets, with the firm’s online sportsbook up ‘18% in net revenues and 16% in new accounts’. The firm’s online gaming assets detailed 4% increase in net revenues, driven by improved ‘cross-sell efficiencies’.

Replicating industry trends, William Hill’s Retail division’s net revenues were down 3% due to a ‘challenging environment for the UK high street’, with a number of UK horseracing fixture cancelled during Q1 2018 due to severe weather conditions.

Moving forward, the legacy bookmaker seeks to become a leading player in the liberalised US sports betting market, expanding its footprint within New Jersey having launched a new sportsbook at Ocean Casino in Atlantic City and securing a betting risk management contract with Delaware state lottery.

Philip Bowcock – William Hill

Updating investors 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.”

Last July, Bowcock and William Hill governance announced 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.”