May 15, 2019 / 6:30 AM / 7 days ago

William Hill posts higher revenue, bolstered by U.S. sports gambling

FILE PHOTO: A branded sign is displayed outside a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - British bookmaker William Hill Plc reported higher revenue for the year to April 30 on Wednesday, as the success of its online business and operations in the United States countered a weaker retail performance back home.

The company, which serves punters through betting shops, sports books, online and mobile channels in eight countries, said overall revenue rose 2% and online revenue grew 8% as it benefited from the Sweden-based Mr Green & Co acquisition.

Net revenue from the U.S. jumped 48% from operations in seven states that currently legislate and regulate sports betting.

The company, which processed more than 8 billion pounds in sports wagers in 2018, has been spending aggressively to push growth and capture market share in the United States. Chief Executive Officer Philip Bowcock had said in November that the U.S. business would turn profitable in three years.

William Hill, which was founded in 1934 as a postal and telephone betting service and still counts the United Kingdom as its home market, said that UK retail revenue was down 8%.

The UK accounts for around 90% of its business.

Retail gaming net revenue was down 15%, hit by the new 2 pound stake limit, William Hill said.

Betting companies have faced a perfect storm of regulations and higher taxes at home. A new cap on FOBTs of 2 pounds came into effect in April to counter problem gambling, replacing an earlier 100 pound limit.

“The impact of the introduction of the £2 stake limit has been in line with our expectations. We are confident in our plan to manage this major change,” Bowcock said.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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