William Hill Points To U.S. Sports Betting Market For Growth

William Hill Points To U.S. Sports Betting Market For Growth

William Hill on Wednesday reported a lower profit in the first half of 2020, but is looking to the restart of sports and growth in the U.S. market as keys to a strong second half of the year.

The London-based company also said in a news release it will keep 119 betting facilities closed in the United Kingdom as it combines online and retail British operations. But it’s the U.S. where William Hill sees opportunity, as it represented 7% of the group’s revenue in the first half.

In the news release it noted its media partnership with CBS Sports is live in the U.S.; it has begun operations in three new states; the launch of iGaming in New Jersey is imminent; and Eldorado’s merger with Caesars brought its U.S. sports betting market share to 29%.

It also reported that net revenue was down 32% because of “COVID-19 disruption to sporting events and temporary closure of retail activities.” Online net revenue increased 1%, driven by successful product launches, growth in the U.S. and the gradual resumption of sports events.

Despite not reopening the 119 betting facilities, William Hill made a point of saying it would repay money it received from the UK government during the coronavirus pandemic.

More Details From the Report

Other key numbers from Wednesday’s report:

  • Net revenue in the first half of 2020 was $729.2 million compared to $1.068 billion in the first half of 2019.
  • Profit/loss before interest and taxes was $195.3 million profit in the first half of 2020. It had a $50.1 million loss in the first half of 2019.
  • U.S. sportsbooks saw $723.4 million bet on the first half of 2020. It was $1.023 billion in the first six months of 2019. There were no stoppages in sports last year.
  • Net revenue from U.S. sportsbooks in the first six months of 2020 was $50.2 million, compared to $69.6 million in the first half of 2019.

Busy In The U.S.

William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said the company has made “excellent progress in our U.S. business.”

“It’s hard to deny that we are already in the second wave in the U.S. to some extent ... as long as major sport events are back, we are quite confident of how this business is going to develop,” Bengtsson said in an earnings call, according to Reuters.

As noted in the release, William Hill has been active in the U.S. as sports, which have been shut down since mid-March, have seen re-starts in the NBA and NHL, and the MLB finally opened its season. Just in the last weeks, William Hill has started the second half of 2020 strong:

  • William Hill opened its first Illinois retail sportsbook on Aug. 1 at Grand Victoria Casino Elgin, which is about 40 miles west of downtown Chicago. William Hill also said it will soon offer mobile sports betting the state after it receives regulatory approval.
  • The company opened the first sportsbook at a professional sports venue in the U.S. on July 31. The William Hill sportsbook at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. — home to the NBA’s Wizards, WNBA's Mystics and NHL’s Capitals — opened in a temporary location at the arena with plans to open a permanent one in the fall.
  • Increased its number of U.S. sportsbooks to about 170, many of them in Nevada, after it took over the Caesars sportsbooks in the Eldorado-Caesars merger.

“We have continued to develop both our technology platform and our product offerings, with more significant enhancements to come in the second half,” Bengtsson said in the news release. “We have the financial strength to confidently pursue our growth agenda, taking advantage of our market leading position in sports betting in the U.S., and the terrific opportunity that Eldorado’s merger with Caesars brings.”

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