ollowing its exit from the Italian market last year, William Hill plc announced Thursday that it is to withdraw from the Spanish market and its joint venture with Codere, citing regulatory and economic concerns.
The Victoria Apuestas business opened its first outlet in April 2008 and now trades across 98 locations in the Madrid and Basque regions of Spain, but Hill said achieving relevant scale for the business was always dependent upon a substantial growth in the number of outlets.
“Achieving this scale has proved problematic because of the slow granting of local regulatory consents and the slower-than-anticipated regulatory changes within other regions,” it said. “These factors, coupled with the difficult economic situation within Spain, were likely to lead to additional capital requirements and a delay in achieving William Hill's target return for the venture.”
In the first quarter of this year, sports betting operating revenue from the Victoria JV amounted to 0.8 million euros, with negative EBITDA of - 1 million euros.
Instead, the UK firm has decided to focus its international sports betting strategy on the internet via William Hill Online. It doesn’t expect the withdrawal from the joint venture to have an impact on expectations for 2009.