The pressure on gambling and betting operators in the UK is mounting. On the one hand, there are several initiatives aiming to further limit and restrict online gambling. We reported this last month that two Government reports criticised the Gambling Commission for not having a clear plan on how to make the industry safer and more transparent. As a result, UKGC opened a debate on curbing online slot games wagering.
If such a decision is reached, that will have a serious impact on the operators and the industry as a whole, there’s no doubt about that. The limit on fixed odds betting that was imposed last year had a serious impact on the operations and revenue of the operators. William Hill alone lost almost £64 million, but other operators also suffered great losses. By the summer 2019, the operators announced that they will be forced to close a number of their venues. Operators blamed FOBTs reform and also warned that they will have to lay some staff off.
Increased profits in the first half of 2020
This might be a very difficult period for gambling operators in the UK, not the least because of the restrictions and the decision to shut down in the past several months. William Hill has already announced that they will not be re-opening 119 of their high street shops. Bear in mind that the company has about 1,500 venues in the UK.
It has been reported that about 300 people who are employed in these venues will be affected, but the company has ensured that a large number of them, in fact about 280 have already been redeployed.
The company went through a recovery after the lockdown was lifted and it will be repaying over £24 million of the furlough funds it received as part of the government plan.
The company made pre-tax profits of £141 million in the first half of the year, so in a way it is a lot more successful than the previous 2019. The revenue on the other hand fell significantly, about 30%, to a total of £554 million. A lot of events were cancelled, and the number of options when it comes to betting was quite limited.
The first betting venue to open within a sports venue in the US
It has to be said that the company’s presence on high streets and urban centres was in decline. Just a reminder, we mentioned earlier that the company was hit by the decision to limit the wagers on FOBTs. The company had to close down about 700 shops.
On the other hand, while the company is facing some challenges in the UK, it is quite popular on the international market.
William Hill is set to open a venue in Capital Arena which is set to be opened in 2020. The CEO of the William Hill US branch said that everybody in the company and particularly the US branch is very excited about the opening. This will be the first betting retail location in a sports venue and that fact is regarded as a tremendous achievement for the company.