William Hill Reports £820m Loss Following Govt FOBT Max Bet Proposal

William Hill reported an enormous loss in the first six months of 2018, but the bookie has made solid plans to cash in on sports betting repeals in the US.

In May of this year, the UK Government announced plans to reduce the maximum bet on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2 from £100, sending WH share prices plummeting. As a result of this loss, the bookmaker has warned that up to 900 of its betting shops in the UK – of which there are currently more than 2,300 – could be forced to close, risking 4,500 jobs.

William Hill Chief Executive Philip Bowcock shared his thoughts on potential new revenue streams for the company: “In the US, we have moved quickly following the repeal of PASPA [Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992] as we grow into newly regulating states. We will continue to invest in the US to ensure we are well-placed to capture the substantial potential available to us.”

The Statue of Liberty in New York in front of a cloudy sky.

The Statue of Liberty, NY

The PASPA repeal means that limitations on sports betting have been lifted in many states of the US creating ample opportunity for established bookies such as WH to cash in on new markets. Despite the existence of PASPA, the American Gaming Association estimates at least $150 billion is gambled on sports in the US per year, 97% of that illegally.

More recently, William Hill has signed a partnership deal with Eldorado Casinos, a US casino firm with an estimated 23 million customers playing in 21 casinos across 11 states. The firm is expected to expand to 26 sites in 13 states by 2019, following the planned acquisition of Tropicana Entertainment. The deal stipulates that William Hill will become Eldorado Casinos’ exclusive partner for sports betting and online gambling. The bookie intends to launch sports betting operations at five casinos “within weeks”.

On this deal, Bowcock said: “Together, we are positioned to capture the evolving US opportunity – starting with land-based sports betting and extending to digital sports betting and, in some states, online gaming,”

Gary Carano, the chairman and chief executive of Eldorado Casinos added: “We look forward to bringing the excitement of sports betting to customers across our growing platform of leading casino resorts, creating value for all shareholders,”

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