Regulation continues to impact on William Hill's online performance

By David Cook
William Hill’s online net revenue dropped 11% for the 17 weeks ended 26 April, the operator confirmed in a trading update.

The update, which was in comparison with the 17 weeks ended 28 April last year, included percentage increases and decreases for the majority as opposed to actual figures, though Hills did release a predicted number for full year operating profit, which it said was in line with guidance of £260-£280m subject to normalised gross winnings.

Net revenue, amounts wagered and sports betting gross win margin were the only fields where percentages were given, with the online, retail, Australia and US divisions all being covered separately.

Retail’s net revenue was up 2%, though retail was the only division where a drop in amounts wagered were reported, falling 3%.

William Hill Australia’s net revenue fell 22%, though there were more positive results for Hills’ US operations, which increased its net revenue by 46%.

Overall group net revenue went down 3%.

Hills CEO James Henderson said: “It has been a tough start to the year in online, which is being impacted by both regulatory change and a gross win margin below normalised levels for the period due to a disappointing Cheltenham festival and unfavourable European football results.”

The regulatory change that Henderson is referring to is likely to be the UK point-of-consumption tax (POCT) regime, which requires operators to pay a 15% tax on profits from remote gaming, implemented in December 2014.

Hills’ online net revenue for the full year 2015 was £550.7m, up 4%, but would have been approximately £648m were it not for the POCT, which was also said to have played a part in an operating profit decline of 29% to £126.5m for the same period.

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