verall net revenue rose from us$ 795.5 million in the first half of 2009 to us$ 817.7 million in the same period this year, while William Hill Online saw a 24% increase across all online products from us$ 154.4 million in the first half of 2009 to us$ 191.6 million in the same period in 2010.
Henry Birch, CEO of William Hill Online, said the business had however lost £5m from its withdrawal from the French market but that this was offset by a good World Cup. He said William Hill were “in the process” of applying for a licence in France. “The climate there makes it very difficult to make a profit. We’re also looking at all other regulated markets including Denmark and Italy, and awaiting cash poker and casino betting to go online in the first quarter of next year in Italy.”
Birch said he had just come back from the United States and that if the market was regulated there “people with existing licences” would be given preference. If European firms want to be involved in the US market, he said they would “need to do so in partnership with a local operator.”
He said the business was “outstripping” all its competitors. “Compared to our competitors we’ve had very strong growth online, particularly in our sportsbook. We’ve had very strong topline growth in revenues and benefited from taking the business offshore. In the first half of last year we were still paying tax in the UK, now we’ve moved offshore we’ve saved around £10m in annual savings,” he said.
Birch added that overall bingo (up 52% to us$ 15.4 million) and casino revenues (up 8% us$101.6 million) had done very well. Poker revenues, however suffered from a “seasonal decline” he added, down 5% to us$16.3 million compared to last year. He said the sharp rise in bingo was due to a “great team, more focused marketing and getting the product right”.
Retail net revenue fell 1% this year, going from us$ 606.7 million to us$ 601.5 million. he company said “outstanding football World Cup” results were “offset by poor horseracing results”. William Hill added that its telephone betting business will be restructured. EGRMagazine.com reported last month that William Hill was moving its telebetting division to Gibraltar to save costs.
Ralph Topping, chief executive, said: “This is a positive first half performance, driven by William Hill Online and, in particular, a very strong sportsbook. We had our best ever World Cup, far exceeding expectations.
“Despite turnover decline in OTC, overall Retail turnover and gross win were up, driven by an exceptionally good performance from machines. We have also completed the restructuring of the balance sheet, continued to invest to great effect in our people and have increased our focus on marketing and advertising.”