illiam Hill said the net revenue increase was largely driven by its online business, which posted a 28 percent increase, to $508.4 million in 2011, while its retail operations gained 1 percent, to $1.24 billion. "We believe there are more opportunities to grow in our core market in the U.K. and also for the business to expand internationally beyond the traditional roots as more governments open up their regulated gambling markets," William Hill CEO Ralph Topping said.
The company, which operates 2,370 betting shops, takes more than 1 million bets a day, averaging between us$ 4.75 and us$ 6 per wager. Topping said the company will be selective in where it takes its brand outside of the United Kingdom. "We are taking our first steps into the U.S. with the three impending land-based sports betting acquisitions," Topping said. "We were warned the regulators process could take 12 to 18 months. It's an exceptionally long process but we are in the hands of the regulators and we are not complaining."
Topping said the company was "keeping an eye on where online could be going." He told gaming analysts in a conference call that William Hill has applied for a full gaming license in Nevada, putting the British bookmaker in a "very strong position."
"While we are focusing (on Nevada) we (had) better not overlook the move by Governor (Chris) Christie in New Jersey particularly to overturn the land-based ban." In January, Christie signed a bill legalizing sports betting in New Jersey. The state is expected to sue to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which effectively outlawed sports betting in all but a few states.
As of Monday, the state had yet to file a federal lawsuit challenging the act. William Hill entered the United States last year with its acquisitions in Nevada.
On April 14, William Hill purchased American Wagering, parent company of Leroy's Horse & Sports Place for us$ 18 million, along with Club Cal Neva Satellite Race and Sports book division in Northern Nevada for us$ 21 million. That was followed May 3 with the us$ 15.7 million purchase of Brandywine Bookmaking, which operates Lucky's Race & Sports books.