Due to expected lack of demand, William Hill has chosen not to reopen 119 of its UK High Street betting shops. Meanwhile, the company’s focus on the United States continues.
119 William Hills Shops to Remain Shuttered in the UK
William Hill has confirmed that 119 of its UK High Street betting shops will remain shuttered and not reopen, an article in the BBC reported. The sportsbook currently operates some 1,500 retail outlets in the United Kingdom and the latest decision is prompted by poorer expectations in terms of overall visitors.
William Hill doesn’t believe that the number of patrons will measure up to pre-pandemic levels any time soon. However, William Hill will make sure to spread all affected employees, some 300 individuals across different branches and departments.
Some good news has also been reported by the operator, though. According to the company, the sports betting handle has been going up as sports events are returning. Soccer is back in both North American and Europe and the NBA, UFC and golf have been running for a few weeks now.
William Hill is also in the process of repaying $32 million back to the UK government in furlough funds. Surprisingly, even the pandemic has not been able to stop William Hill from posting great results year-over-year.
On Wednesday, William Hill reported $185 million profits before interest and tax for the first half of the year, after reporting $82.8 million in losses in 2019. While results have kept steady for the company, revenue from sports betting dropped to $727.9 million, mostly due to the closure of betting shops.
As we reported previously, the VAT refund William Hill received allowed it to stay profitable despite the pandemic which has prompted a wave of permanent closures, with Genting cautioning that it would have to permanently close three locations in the UK.
Shop Closures Continue Under the William Hill Banner
William Hill has had a few rough years in terms of business model. The company’s bottom line has been mostly intact, but William Hill has had to adapt to some sudden changes in the overall regulatory climate in its domestic market.
In 2019, the UK Government voted to reduce the permissible betting limit on fixed-odds-betting terminals (FOBTs) down to £2 from previously £100. The move prompted the closure of some 710 betting shops since the measure came into effect on April 1.
A Shift in Operations and New Start in the United States
While much has been changing at home, William Hill has been making bold strides in the United States. The company is already present in several states, including:
- Washington D.C.
- New Jersey
- Mississippi & others
While the company has been affected by the lockdown, its online revenue has grown by 17%. Most recently, the company opened new sportsbooks in Illinois and Washington, D.C., and before that in Colorado.