What Does William Hill’s Future Hold?
William Hill remains one of the UK’s most trusted and loved bookmakers, with more than three million registered online players and thousands of brick-and-mortar betting shops located nationwide.
You can find detailed information about William Hill horse racing and other markets on this site, but this doesn’t do justice to the challenges that the brand has faced over the course of the last few years.
In this post, we’ll address some of the challenges that William Hill have faced in recent times, while asking what the future holds for this iconic British brand.
How has William Hill Fared of Late?
In 2019, William Hill saw its share price and profits impacted by the controversial FOBT cap, which was finally rolled out in April last year and slashed the maximum stake amount for fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to a paltry £2.
This was a devastating development for gambling brands with a strong offline presence, as the turnover generated by FOBTs accounted for approximately 56% of all bookmaker profits at the end of 2018.
In the aftermath of this decision, William Hill was forced to close up to 700 shops nationwide, placing 4,500 jobs at risk and forcing the brand to refocus on iGaming and international marketplaces.
Despite this strategic realignment and the underlying strength of the brand driving a strong recovery into 2020, William Hill has since been hit further by the coronavirus outbreak.
While this pandemic has actually provided a boost to the iGaming market (virtual sports betting aside, of course), it has further decimated the offline sector, with William Hill closing a further 119 betting shops despite remaining in profit during 2020.
This has cost further jobs too, while the virus shows no sign of being overcome anytime soon.
What Does the Future Hold for William Hill?
With these points in mind, there’s little doubt that the future of William Hill will be dictated largely by its growth in the US marketplace.
Make no mistake; the brand has invested heavily in its aggressive expansion in the North American market, has numerous states have moved to legalise sports betting and demand has increased exponentially stateside.
This resulted in the brand reporting slightly higher revenue in the four months since its first-half results in 2019, as online revenues increased by 26% for the 17 weeks ending October 29th.
To put this figure into context, it was heavily influenced by a 60% jump in net revenue from the US, while retail like-for-like net turnover fell by 16% during the same period.
Clearly, US market participation will play a key role in William Hill’s future, and the brand has arguably blazed a trail for others to follow in this respect.
On a similar note, a US activist investor has recently wagered £115 million on a key stake in William Hill, fuelling intense speculation that it could push for the sale of the bookmaker.
The investor in question, who represents HG Vora Capital Management, certainly has form in the marketplace, having previously done the same at prominent US casino groups.
The news emerged on the same day that William Hill’s sports and betting apps featured on US cable giant ESPN, after striking a lucrative deal with the Caesars brand.
This continues a journey that began more than two years ago, when the brand first announced major expansion plans into the States. At this time, the group signed sports betting agreements with 11 casinos in Mississippi and a casino partner in West Virginia, affording William Hill a strong presence in 14 individual states.
This move helped the brand to forge partnerships with various locations, including the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and the Treasure Bay Casino. In addition to its link to various US brands, the company has laid the foundation for further international growth in the future.
Given the future growth of the US market in particular, this means that William Hill can look forward to a huge success going forward.