UK bookmaker William Hill started 2016 on a sour note, dragged down by a lackluster online performance.
In a trading update released on Wednesday, Hills said overall revenue had fallen 3% in the 17 weeks through April 28. While its retail, Australian and US operations all showed positive momentum, overall online turnover fell 2% and online revenue was off 11% from the same period last year.
Online gaming revenue was down 4% while sports betting was off 17%, which the company blamed on punter-friendly European football results and the widely publicized bookie disaster that was this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Online sports turnover in the UK was down 2%, and Hills said the business continues to suffer from the new rules regarding customer time-outs and self-exclusions. Hills’ operations in Italy and Spain posted double-digit turnover growth but ‘other markets’ reported online stakes falling 13%.
In Australia, wagering turnover was up 8% year-on-year, although punter-friendly racing results pushed revenue down 22%. As for the government’s recent announcement of plans to clamp down on the voice-activated online in-play betting apps that Hills pioneered, Hills said only that it would “await further clarification” of these plans.
Stateside, William Hill US continues its relentlessly upward progression in Nevada, with turnover rising 31% and revenue up 38% thanks in part to a bookie-friendly Super Bowl.
At the UK retail level, turnover was down 3% but favorable English Premier League results helped boost revenue by 2%, while gaming machine revenue was up 4%. The company says it’s on target to have 500 of its self-service betting terminals (SSBT) in shops prior to this summer’s Euro 2016 footie fest and will push this number to “a minimum of 2,000” by year’s end.
Hills also announced that Crispin Nieboer’s interim role as managing director of online had been made permanent. Nieboer (pictured) has been handling the brief since former MD Andrew Lee was placed on ‘gardening leave’ in January.
Hills said Nieboer had been tasked with enhancing products to offer customers a better playing experience, refocusing marketing to attract more profitable customers, as well as targeting launches in new markets and/or adding local language options in markets in which Hills already operates.