Business

Online betting profits soar at William Hill

File photo dated 18/09/16 of William Hill shop branding as the betting giant said full-year profits would be at the top end of its target as plans to turn around its struggling online business began to bear fruit. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday November 14, 2016. Total net revenues rose 6% in the four months to October 25, driven by a 4% jump in digital revenues following a stronger performance from its mobile Sportsbook and more favourable football results. See PA story CITY WilliamHill. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Bookmaker William Hill has hailed a 16 per cent surge in online betting revenues since the start of the year thanks to a concerted push including the launch of a new app and website overhaul.

The group said amounts wagered online by punters jumped 11 per cent in the UK over the 17 weeks to April 25, although it saw mixed sporting results, with a strong year so far for horseracing, but football returns lower than expected.

William Hill said efforts to boost its online business continued to pay off after the group launched a new Android app and desktop site, while it saw a 24% leap in new accounts set up across the key Cheltenham and Aintree horseracing festivals earlier this year.

But it confirmed an expected hit of around £5 million to its online arm this year from the new 10 per cent levy on its UK horseracing gross win to fund UK horseracing, which came into effect last month.

The group's overall net revenues lifted 9 per cent year-on-year in the 17 weeks, with a more muted 1 per cent rise in turnover across its high street betting shops.

Philip Bowcock, chief executive of William Hill, said: "It has been a positive start to the year for William Hill across the board.

"Our online business continues to deliver growth thanks to the improvements in product, user experience and marketing we have made."

William Hill said it was on track to make annual savings of £40 million by the end of 2017 to reinvest in the business as part of an overhaul.

The revamp is also seeing the group deliver a global technology platform as it looks to catch up with rivals in the lucrative online betting market.

International growth is another key focus for William Hill, which has operations in the United States and Australia.

The group said net revenues rose 41 per cent in Australia and 19 per cent in the US over the first 17 weeks of 2017.

William Hill, founded in 1934, has nearly 2,400 betting shops across the UK.

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