Business

Bookmaker William Hill records £74m loss

William Hill has recorded an annual loss of £74.6 million

BOOKMAKER William Hill has swung to an annual loss after writing down the value of its Australian business amid a local crackdown on gambling.

The company said it booked a £238.3 million goodwill impairment following "adverse tax and regulatory changes" in Australia and additional charges linked to the costs of a group-wide transformation programme.

It pushed the company to a £74.6 million loss in the year to December 26 on a statutory basis, tumbling from a profit of £181.3 million a year earlier.

That was against revenues of £1.7 billion, up 7 per cent from £1.6 billion a year earlier.

The bookmaker recently launched a strategic review of the Australian business, which it hopes to conclude by mid-2018.

William Hill is also contending with a £6.2 million fine after an investigation by the UK's Gambling Commission revealed earlier this week that the bookmaker breached anti-money laundering and social responsibility regulations, letting customers deposit large sums of money linked to criminal offences resulting in gains of more than £1.2 million for the company.

That related to activity between November 2014 and August 2016.

Chief executive Philip Bowcock said 2018 would be a better year for the business, adding that the company was poised to benefit if a US court ruling appealing against a federal ban opens up regulated sports betting markets across American states.

"William Hill begins 2018 in a stronger position after a year of significant change for the business," he said.

"We continue to gain ground in the UK, where customers are responding to our improved Online and omnichannel offers.

"We are a leader in sports betting in the US and are well-positioned to benefit should more states start to regulate if the pending Supreme Court decision is positive."

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